The final ODI in Auckland concluded with another England win, the tourists coming from 1-0 down to take the series 2-1 and add to their success in the Twenty20 matches. Despite a belligerent 79 off 68 balls from their in-form captain Brendon McCullum, New Zealand were restricted to 185 all out from just under 44 overs, a score that was never likely to be enough and so it proved. England were unhurried, and following contributions from Alastair Cook (46), Ian Bell (24) and Jonathan Trott (38), man-of-the-moment Joe Root hit a steady 28 from 56 to anchor the innings. Eoin Morgan set about knocking off the remaining runs with 39 from just 24 balls, but it was Root and Chris Woakes who saw England home after Jos Buttler fell for three. This was an important victory for England and coach Ashley Giles, as they have two limited-overs series victories to bring back with them. Promise is starting to be turned into results, and a win in the return series when New Zealand embark on the return tour will represent the ideal preparation for the Champions Trophy.
Steven Finn does not appear to have lost any of his potency despite the time spent trying to avoid hitting the wicket during his run up. Three wickets for 27 runs in Auckland made him the pick of the English attack, and if the Middlesex man can cure the issue that has dogged his career of late, then weaknesses will be hard to find within England’s bowling unit. James Anderson is one of the world’s best and would be a shoe-in for most international sides. Finn brings pace and bounce, as does Stuart Broad, and in Graeme Swann, the four man attack is rounded off by a top-class spinner. Chris Woakes is still young but represents a solid alternative for captain Cook, and there are plenty of quick bowling options to go alongside Swann’s able back-up James Tredwell. Consistency will always be harder to nail down in limited-overs cricket than in Test matches, but as the important games – be they series deciders or tournament knock outs – are won, then the main objectives will have been achieved; the more faith there is in the bowlers, the more confident the batsmen will be.
The tour of New Zealand concludes with three Test matches, and with two trophies in the bank a clean sweep is on the horizon. The hosts have been much better across the one-day formats than they have been over five days in recent years, and winning every Test is a realistic proposition for England. This Tour was always seen as a good chance to register some confidence, inducing wins at the start of an Ashes year, and the same will apply for the home series in May. Pieces appear to be falling into place, even with Kevin Pietersen being rested, and the coaching changes that have been made in recent months have not had an adverse effect on the respective squads. 2013 is a massive year for English cricket with back-to-back Ashes series and a global one-day tournament, and so far everything is going to plan.
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