E NGLAND captain Stuart Broad was quick to blame yesterday’s series-levelling 55-run defeat in the second Twenty20 match in New Zealand on his decision to put the hosts into bat.
Yet if England had just bowled a bit better they might have won. As good as the tourists were in Saturday’s romp to victory in Auckland, they were poor in all departments in Hamilton.
Their fundamental mistake was failing to adapt to the conditions in front of them, and they need to be far more savvy in Friday’s decider.
Yesterday there was a little bounce in the pitch, and the boundaries were short, so it was vital that bowlers prevented batsmen from getting under the ball, especially as even an edge from a modern bat travels so far.
That means bowling full deliveries and bowling straight, but instead England produced too many balls that were either short or length, and those inevitably tended to be hit for fours or sixes.
Brendon McCullum took his time at first but we all know he is a very talented player, so it should be no great surprise that he took advantage to hit 74 off 38 balls and help New Zealand add 46 in the last three overs.
The format of T20 ensures matches are generally tight affairs, so if one team has a guy who takes 2-9, as Ian Butler did, and someone who hits 74, then they are probably going to win.
If there was a positive for England to take from the match it was Jos Buttler’s 54. Joe Root was the discovery of the first leg of winter, and Buttler looks like being the find of the second leg.
I still fancy England to bounce back in the final match. I don’t think confidence will have suffered too much and man for man, the tourists are the better team.
The importance of the contest shouldn’t be underestimated, however, as winning the series will give one team extra impetus for the one-day and Test matches to come.
Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer. He has also been captain and chairman of Warwickshire.