So the World T20 is over for the Black Caps and England after both had underwhelming tournaments.
England are on the slide and the Black Caps are stuck in the doldrums. When these two sides meet here in New Zealand at the end of the summer, it will be fascinating.
Three players interest me and I believe they will have a large bearing on the outcome of the series.
For England, it will be Kevin Pietersen. England missed him incredibly during their failed defence of the World T20.
The players probably didn't miss his personality but they certainly missed his undeniable skill and scoreboard contribution.
Surely the England and Wales Cricket Board has too much pride in its team's performance to keep Pietersen out of the side - and I note that there are meetings being set up between Pietersen, his team-mates and management to begin the 'reintegration' process.
How will he be accepted by the players after his sporting equivalent of treason?
Probably not well but I don't think that will really matter to him. He appears to me to be an individual solely motivated by individual goals and a desire to be the one in the limelight.
Could he be a target for sledging and maybe for our lads to get under his skin? I don't think so. I reckon Pietersen doesn't think he's done much wrong and I believe he revels in a confrontation. So, for our sake, I hope he and England can't find a resolution because England are way worse off without this fine cricketer.
For New Zealand, Brendon McCullum will be needed. McCullum is a catalyst for performance in this Black Caps team. If he performs, it's match-winning; problem is he doesn't perform enough.
That surely must be the first job for new Black Caps coach Michael Hesson; how to get more out of McCullum.
Hesson knows him well and has worked well with him for Otago but does that mean working with McCullum as captain, too?
I believe making McCullum captain could be the way to go to gain consistency out of this frustrating player. The added responsibility could just be that elusive part in his game.
However, the captaincy is way more than that. It is not just about making McCullum a better player and that is where Ross Taylor comes into the picture.
Taylor is the best player in our team. He is captain and needs time to grow into the role. If the powers-that-be think he is not right, then act now because the last thing we need going into this important series is unanswered questions, tension and division.
There is a similar look to this team to the one that struggled through the mid-1990s. Strong personalities under-performing was the modus operandi.
A strong coach and a maturing captain turned them around and began an era of notable performance which began with a series win against England in 1999.By Mark Richardson Email Mark