Cricket, England, hamish rutherford, Johny Bairstow, Jos Butler, new zealand, Samit Patel, Stuart Broad
England’s efforts to gain form ahead of their T20 series with New Zealand this February have suffered a minor blow after falling to defeat on the last ball of the game against an NZ XI on Wednesday.
Although England set their counterparts a tricky 170 to win after 20 overs, Tom Latham steered New Zealand XI towards the line with a resplendent 64, surviving four partnerships before Matt Henry hit the winnings runs on the final delivery.
A defeat is the worst preparation for England’s tour of New Zealand, which gets properly underway in the three-match T20 series this weekend, but one positive note can be taken from the defeat.
For Jos Butler recorded his second-successive half-century to put England in complete control in Whangarei, the 22-year-old smashing 52 form 36 balls from sixth man.
Butler’s performance – which supported the England innings after Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow earlier fell for four and two respectively – kept England in the tie and his 87-run partnership with Eoin Morgan (who also totalled 51) was a real positive on the day.
What England lacked was a strong bowling attack capable of taking down Latham after Samit Patel took Hamish Rutherford 58 runs in. Despite Stuart Broad taking a hat-trick the day before, the captain’s team-mates failed to live up to his level and Broad’s 3-24 on Wednesday proved too late to stop New Zealand.
With a win, a loss, and an abandonment the result of three practice matches, England head into this T20 series in inconsistent form. They do have an outlet to win games, however, which will please fans indulging in England betting with Michael Vaughan – for Butler and Morgan appear a genuine middle-order partnership, while Broad’s presence in the attack makes any batting side vulnerable to a quick collapse.