England's series against New Zealand was going to be highly significant in the sense that it was going to be their first one-day series in the aftermath of the World Cup debacle. They managed to square the Tests 1-1, but that wasn't too much of a surprising result. It was the one-day series that the cricket pundits would have been eagerly waiting for. Jos Buttler had admitted few days back that England were behind other teams as far as ODIs were concerned. The acceptance of lagging behind had finally been made, and what remained to be seen was whether England could convert their acceptance into better performances.
Before making an effort to turn the tide, England needed to have a close look at their side. Fine-tuning the side to the needs to modern day one-day cricket was the need of the hour. And England took the right step in this aspect looking beyond the experienced trio of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ian Bell, all of whom looked jaded in the World Cup. They have done great service to England cricket over the years across formats, but the time had definitely come to look beyond them. In the past, England have shied away from taking stern decisions except when the man in question has been Kevin Pietersen. The new England regime changed that.
England began their 'new era' in a fantastic manner, notching up 400 for the first time in their ODI history, and then doubling up the enjoyment by registering their biggest ever win in one-dayers. England could not have begun in a better way. They batted and bowled like kings, and New Zealand looked completely shell-shocked as Brendon McCullum and co were given a dose of their own medicine. After the Kiwis fought back well to win the next two games, it seemed like England's win in the opening match was like a flash in the pan. However, the hosts fought back brilliantly to claim the last two games and, with it, the series.
What stood out about England's approach in the series was the aggression which they showed in the field, very much un-England like, and to go with it, a great degree of consistency as well. Jos Buttler kicked off the series with a fantabulous hundred, and his replacement Jonny Bairstow finished off things with a match-winning innings on his comeback to the side. The other batsmen were also on top of their game. Skipper Eoin Morgan overcame the World Cup horror, and looked a completely transformed player. Joe Root was consistent through to the T20 match as well.
England's bowling also made an impression in the series. Steven Finn, who had a horror of a World Cup, came back well, and had an exceedingly good series, especially against his nemesis McCullum. Adil Rashid too bowled well although he was expensive in some games. If anything the likes of Alex Hales and Jason Ray need to get bigger scores. After the victory in the one-dayers, the triumph in the sole T20 was like the icing on the cake for England. They would dearly hope that the win marks the beginning of a new era in English cricket. It is too early to make a conclusion, but the start has been made.
--By A Cricket Analyst