New-look England pay the price

Mark Wood can't believe it as wicketkeeper Jos Buttler drops Ross Taylor. Picture: Neil Marshall
Mark Wood can't believe it as wicketkeeper Jos Buttler drops Ross Taylor. Picture: Neil Marshall
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England’s brave new era suffered a setback as New Zealand completed a comprehensive three-wicket defeat at the Ageas Bowl.

After their recent positive displays with the bat, Eoin Morgan’s side set about the task in a similar fashion in the third Royal London One-Day Series clash on Hampshire’s home turf.

But England were bowled out for 302 with almost four overs of their 50 left unused, which paved the way for the tourists to cruise to victory without needing to take too many risks in the process.

After so much praise for England’s new approach to the one-day game, it’s churlish to then then point out their shortcomings.

But even though there is so much to admire about the fresh, attacking method, basic cricket principles cannot be ignored along the way.

Unfortunately for England, they were guilty of two of them: failing to bat their overs and then dropping crucial catches that could have changed the outcome.

With overcast skies and an early start, Morgan might have preferred to lose the toss with a tricky decision to make.

Kiwi debutant Ben Wheeler accounted for Alex Hales (23) and Jason Roy (nine) followed him soon afterwards to leave England wobbling at 34 for two.

It was not quite the platform for another dart at 400, which has almost overnight become the new benchmark figure for a competitive total.

The skipper hit a fine 71, Ben Stokes a 47-ball 68 and Joe Root 54 but England were unable to find a centurion, especially when their lower-order struggled to contribute in the same 
way as they did in the previous two matches.

In fact, they lost their final five wickets for 14 runs in 23 deliveries and left them perhaps 40 or 50 runs short of where they would have wanted to be to put real pressure on New Zealand.

Perhaps it says something about the giant strides England have taken since their dismal World Cup that there was an air of disappointment about their third successive total of more than 300.

A bright start from the England bowlers saw Martin Guptill and Brendan McCullum both trapped leg before wicket but Kane Williamson (118) and Ross Taylor (110) then put on a 206-run stand.

It effectively took the game away from England and despite a cluster of late wickets, New Zealand had already got the hard work done by that point and were in cruise control. But England certainly should have asked more questions of the pair, especially when wicketkeeper Jos Buttler dropped Taylor on 67 and the same batsman was put down again by Stokes at short mid-wicket on 72.

Mark Wood was then the most guilty culprit of the lot when he juggled Williamson to the turf from Stokes’ bowling shortly after the batsman had reached his century.

Had they been taken, it might have been a different story.

A defeat is never enjoyable.

But at least this current England side are giving it a real go.