By Tim Wigmore

Two years ago, England arrived at the Westpac Stadium for their World Cup match with New Zealand. By the time they left, they had not merely been beaten; they had been eviscerated.

The match, billed as a blockbuster Friday night, barely lasted behind the interval. England were bowled out for 123; Brendon McCullum ensured New Zealand needed only 12.2 overs to chase their target down.

As he watched on at a blustery Cardiff in his new guise as a commentator, McCullum must have considered himself vindicated.


England's humiliation in Wellington that day was the prelude to them being bundled out of the tournament by Bangladesh; their dreary, stilted cricket failed even to make the quarter-finals.

But since they returned home confronting the debris of that World Cup campaign, England have been a team transformed.

Having lagged behind in ODI cricket, all the way back to the 1992 World Cup, England's batting is finally at the cutting edge of innovation in 50-over cricket.

In 310 innings batting first in ODIs until the end of the 2015 World Cup, England made 300 only 29 times. They have done so 17 times in 24 innings since. Even in their slightly disjointed innings in Cardiff, they still made 310.

New Zealand can claim a significant portion of the cricket. England have often spoken about the debt they owe McCullum and his team for the effervescent, joyful cricket New Zealand played on their tour of England two years ago, which helped to shape the ODI team England have become.

Morgan has said that England play more in the style of New Zealand than ever of the other teams at the last World Cup.

Such flattery, though, will be scant consolation to New Zealand. For long stretches of their run chase today, they appeared to be cruising to victory.

It turned out that all the sweet shots of Kane Williamson were a mere distraction.

And so, within scarcely an hour, a game that had seemed under New Zealand's control became one in which they were thrashed.

There is a clear trend emerging here: when Williamson gets out, it is the prelude to an ignominious Kiwi collapse.

In the home series with South Africa, New Zealand were bundled out for 112 and 149 after Williamson failed.

At Edgbaston, in New Zealand's opening game, Williamson's dismissal for a round hundred precipitated a collapse of seven for 37 in six overs, so meek that New Zealand were bowled out with an over of their innings remaining.

The collapse that transpired at Cardiff, as a day of gloom and howling winds gave way to an early evening of sunshine, was slower but, for New Zealand, even more painful.

After a jittery start, Williamson had been playing like a midsummer's dream, one lofted on-drive of the lively Mark Wood particularly sumptuous.

Only a brute of a delivery from Wood, which reared up to claim his glove, could dismiss him. Yet even with Williamson removed, New Zealand's task was still straightforward by the standards of the modern ODI age: 153 runs in 19.4 overs, with seven wickets still intact.

Instead, what transpired was brainless. Ross Taylor tamely picked out short midwicket, a self-inflicted wound when it had fallen to him to pick up Williamson's mantle.

A full 50 balls passed without a boundary. A series of batsmen fell to indiscriminate heaves into the legside -- including, brainlessly, into the gale.

When it had all ended, New Zealand had lost seven for 55 in 10.5 overs. After the 28th over, they hit only three fours and a six. Meek doesn't begin to cover it.

"In all areas England outplayed us today," Williamson reflected. "The nature of the English batting line-up is they bat deep, with a lot of power. To be able to restrict them was not a bad effort but I thought they got to an above-par score."

It was for crux situations such as this that New Zealand recalled Neil Broom at the end of last year, believing that he could provide ballast and steel in the middle-order and, perhaps, reduce the crippling over-dependence upon Williamson.

To English eyes, his selection was a considerable surprise: Broom was fresh from a summer in which he averaged 25.23 in Division Two county championship cricket for Derbyshire.

When he came out to bat, Broom was greeted by a slip and short leg, suggesting England regarded him as a weak link.

By the time he fell sweeping Adil Rashid after a funereal 11 from 21 balls, Broom had done nothing to dispel the notion. In 26 ODI innings against opponents other than Bangladesh and Ireland, against whom he excelled in the recent tri-series, Broom has only a solitary score over 37.

Broom's struggles encapsulate the crippling over-dependence upon Williamson, as significant to a frail batting line-up now as Brian Lara once was to the declining West Indies.

New Zealand's only solace was that Williamson was only fined for their over rate, not suspended, saving them from having to replace his runs in the must-win game against Bangladesh.