Debutante Boyd Rankin aside, England's bowlers were smashed out of the game in their T20 International against New Zealand
A stark contrast to Sunday's events, crowds gathered at the Oval to witness a cricket match played in ideal weather conditions. To the neutral it was another hugely entertaining game which yielded a mammoth 397 runs, including 15 sixes and 33 fours. Unfortunately for England fans, it was yet another defeat. England were a much changed side and the overwhelming consensus on twitter by England fans pointed towards the insignificant feel of this game.
Did anyone care? Regardless there were some new faces on show in England shirts and it was an extremely important event for them. Unfortunately those new faces tasted defeat for the first time in their brand new England shirts, as the bowlers were put to the sword on a fantastic batting pitch. Here are some of the highlights.
Woakes over turbo charges Kiwi innings
Chris Woakes is a brilliant county bowler and is potent when the pitch assists through pace, bounce or seam movement. But, as he's proven on a few occasions this summer, on a pitch that does neither, he's reduced to the wrong side of ordinary at International level. Boyd Rankin had just bowled the ideal first over for England leaving New Zealand on 6-1 when Morgan, on instructions from Ashley Giles no doubt, threw the ball to Woakes. It was his only over, it went for 19 runs and that was the end of his contribution. New Zealand were 25-1 after two overs and well on their way. True, it was a bad day all round for the bowlers. Bopara and Tredwell's figures suggested that this pitch was a nightmare for slow paced bowlers. However when your opening quick bowler walks to fine leg after his first over with tail between legs, it's not exactly a morale boost.
For every villain there's a hero. When Woakes started bowling length balls on leg stump, Hamish Rutherford clinically crashed each one to the boundry rope. For long periods of time Brendon McCullum was a mere spectator as Rutherford clubbed 61 runs from their 114 run partnership. When a player can overshadow a man of McCullum's quality, it's noteworthy. They scored at an astonishing 10 runs/over for 11 overs. The partnership was the big difference.
Lumb & Hales fail to push on
On paper Lumb (29 off 15) and Hails (39 off 29) performed reasonably well. however at this level reasonably well isn't quite enough as was proven here. Once the fielding restrictions subsided, both players failed to capitalize on the start they'd made. Had either one gone onto get a 50+ score, England's fate may have been different.
Two Wrights would've made it alright
Luke Wright put in a good all round performance for England in a T20 once more. The well traveled T20 freelancer used his T20 experience well and nearly guided England home with the bat. He'd smashed 52 off 32 balls before Lancashire's new FLT20 signing Mitchell McClenaghan had him caught behind with a good seaming delivery. Despite Bopara's best efforts after that England didn't have enough firepower to reach what would've been their highest ever T20I run chase. If only England had two Wrights!
Shot of the day - Jos Buttler
Buttscoop -Twitter erupted in ecstacy as Buttler paddle swept Ian butler for six over fine leg for six. One tweet excitedly billed it a Ronalidhino-esque shot. Whilst I've never seen Ronaldinho close his eyes, look away and pull a face one would associate with a bowl movement whilst passing the ball, I'll concede the audacious nature of the shot was commendable. Interestingly the name for the shot (which has also become popular on twitter) is very appropriate, given the probability of making an Ass out of yourself when attempting it.
Ball of the day - Luke Wright
Had Brendon McCullum stayed in until the end, New Zealand may have scored 240+, He's just that destructive! The Kiwi skipper was on 68 and seeing it like a beach ball (as Bumble would say) when Wright bowled him with a pinpoint yorker. Having tried to give himself room in the previous two deliveries looking to hit to the shorter boundries on the off side, Wright's choice of delivery was perfect when he attempted the same thing again. It was a brilliant piece of bowling.
Did you enjoy the game?
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image: © mashfiq13