Cricket: It's England but NZ know they can be kings for day

By David Leggat

Black Caps have won their last four one-day matches over tourists.

Grant Elliott returns for the one-day matches. Photo / Getty Images
Grant Elliott returns for the one-day matches. Photo / Getty Images

The last time New Zealand and England met in an ODI series, the most memorable moment came not on the field, but the New Zealand balcony at The Oval, as players launched an angry, shouting, finger-pointing tirade at their hosts.

The backdrop for the ugly outburst was the running out of Grant Elliott, who had collided with bowler Ryan Sidebottom, gone to ground, and England captain Paul Collingwood, when offered the chance to withdraw the appeal, refusing.

What is forgotten is that New Zealand, 1-0 down, scrapped back to win the series 3-1, including that match. Indeed, they have won their last four clashes, have won more times overall than England in this form.

Elliott is there for the ODI leg of the ANZ international series, starting at Seddon Park in Hamilton, on Sunday.

Unwanted for two years, he returned and made good contributions in two of the three ODIs in the 2-1 series win in South Africa last month, 48 and 54, batting at No4.

He may look unfashionable, but he's effective and has a good head for a jam. His cool unbeaten 61 got New Zealand across the line against Australia at Melbourne in early 2009, and he hit his only ODI hundred at Sydney a couple of days later.

But the South African tour group was a Ross Taylor-less New Zealand squad, and Elliott is one of those players who may battle to hold a middle order spot now there's a squeeze on.

With Rob Nicol jettisoned at the top, BJ Watling gets another chance, while the experienced Kyle Mills, ranked equal 12th with England spinner Graeme Swann in ODIs, returns to lead the bowling attack.

New Zealand should back themselves in the ODI rubber. Their squad looks good, a mix of seasoned operators and others finding their way, such as Colin Munro and Mitchell McClenaghan, with some success.

Included among a clutch of bits and pieces are players like Elliott, James Franklin, who got New Zealand home in a one-wicket thriller at Paarl, and Andrew Ellis.

If you're looking for the name Ian Butler, don't. He was included only in the T20 squad. If he keeps going the way he has all season, he must be in the Champions Trophy frame for June.

England have roped in some of their heavy hitters - captain Alastair Cook, batsmen Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell, spinner Swann and swing man Jimmy Anderson.

Watch, in particular, for Bell, a test middle-order batsman but a player who has opened in his last 16 ODIs. It has been a fruitful move. In that time he's scored 783 runs at 55, and hit a century in England's last ODI against India at Dharamsala.

This will be the last opportunity for both sides to prepare for the Champions Trophy.

New Zealand made the final four years ago, losing to Australia, in the sixth edition of a tournament which began in 1998 and will have its final bow in June.

And it goes without saying that winning the ODI series would give New Zealand a major fillip before the toughest section of the tour, the tests.

The Kiwis will need every bit of confidence-boosting they can get before that.

ODI squads
New Zealand
Brendon McCullum (c), Martin Guptill, BJ Watling, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Colin Munro, Grant Elliott, James Franklin, Andrew Ellis, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan.

England
Alastair Cook (c), Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Samit Patel, Jos Buttler, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Steven Finn, James Harris, Jimmy Anderson.

New Zealand v England
Overall: P 70, W 35, L 29, T 2, N/R 4
At home: P 34, W 17, L 13, T 2, N/R 2

- NZ Herald

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