June 28, 2013
After 17 matches between the two countries since the beginning of March, England and New Zealand players, now free to exchange text messages, can finally wave goodbye to each other. The final chapter, won by New Zealand, consisted two of T20 internationals at The Kia Oval. New Zealand were at full strength; England, by contrast, took the field with all their test players missing. Coming three weeks after the completion of the ODI series, these games seem to have been staged to fill the coffers of the ECB rather than for the benefit of an England team supposedly preparing to take on the Australians.
On a warm sunny evening and in front of a full house, New Zealand duly took advantage in the first match, winning a high scoring encounter by five runs. Their batsmen took the attack to England on a benign pitch with man of the match Hamish Rutherford and captain Brendon McCullum taking a particular liking to James Tredwell and Ravi Bopara, both impressive in the recent Champions Trophy.
Michael Lumb, Alex Hales and Luke Wright made a blistering start for England as they set about chasing 202, but once again middle order wickets were lost at key moments, meaning Bopara’s strong hitting at the end was not quite enough to carry his team over the line.
New Zealand clinched the series as the second game was called off in the rain with only two balls having been bowled. The only highlight for a capacity crowd was the sight of a fit again Kevin Pietersen appearing in an England shirt for the first time in nearly four months. Tredwell, skippering England in the absence of injured Eoin Morgan for probably the only time, may or may not have enjoyed his five minutes of fame at the toss.
Match 1 result: New Zealand 201 for 4 (B McCullum 68, Rutherford 62, Taylor 32*, Wright 2-31) beat England 196 for 5 (Wright 52, Hales 39, Bopara 30*) by five runs.
Match 2 result: Match abandoned (rain)
The Scoop 28/06/13