England swept aside New Zealand yesterday to add the one-day series to their victory in the Twenty20 matches. Considering that these were supposed to be the tricky assignments on this tour it prompted immediate fears of what might happen in the Test series. There was a gulf in class and ability of such proportions, that it is possible not merely to envisage but to expect humiliation for the home side in the coming weeks. In the longer form of the game the Kiwis' deficiencies will be more brutally exposed and England's prowess enhanced.
The tourists have demonstrated in the past fortnight that they are superior in all departments, apart possibly from fielding, in which both sides have set exacting standards. In the victory by five wickets yesterday, England's fast bowlers, especially Jimmy Anderson and Steve Finn, were much too skilful and hostile for their opponents and their batsmen made light work of a persevering but powder- puff attack. It was the burgeoning talent of 22-year-old Joe Root which eventually saw them home with 75 balls left. That no England batsman made 50 was a blemish but not a catastrophe. They were fully worth their 2-1 series win, the first time an England side have won a one-day series here since 1991.
Feathers in caps then for Ashley Giles, the new limited-overs coach, and the captain, Alastair Cook, whose authority seems to increase by the over. "We were ahead in the game from pretty early on," he said. "We can take a lot of confidence into the Test series from the way we have bowled at their top order. We have put a lot of pressure on them and with our guys we know we can do that again with the red ball."
Last month, New Zealand defeated South Africa 2-1 away in a one-day series and came within a ball of winning all three matches. The events of the past week have begged the question as to how that could have happened. True, New Zealand won the opening 50-over tie last Sunday but their opponents were architects of their own downfall. It served as a salutary warning at an appropriate time for England, and the lapses of concentration and diligence on display then are unlikely to be repeated.
The two sides will play each other in five Tests before the end of May – three in New Zealand, two in England – and form and ability suggest that England should win the lot. Unless there is a dramatic turnaround, it will be a poor advertisement for the primacy of Test cricket. It has been disappointing to witness New Zealand's poor performances in the past week. Not that England will mind, given how troublesome they have found it here for the past two decades.
That was not the case yesterday, however, and the margin of victory does not faithfully represent the gap between the teams. It was as good as done and dusted by the eighth over when the Kiwis, having been asked to bat on the drop-in pitch, lost their third wicket. There were a measly eight runs on the board. The ball was jagging about for Anderson, and Finn was disconcertingly rapid to boot.
There was the suspicion that New Zealand were not simply failing to handle Finn but did not exactly relish the battle either. Only their captain, Brendon McCullum, provided prolonged resistance.
He scored his third half-century in succession and was again merciless on England's attack. Finn, fast and furious, had been virtually unplayable until McCullum plundered him for 16 runs in an over with the nonchalance of a man having a pint and a fag. If they had evolved a strategy on how to curb his devastating hitting, he made mincemeat of it. Necessarily circumspect at the start – he came in at 64 for 4 which swiftly became 67 for 5 – his 79 still came from 68 balls and contained six fours and five sixes.
McCullum can hit long boundaries, so the short, straight ones at Eden Park were an open invitation. But when he ran out of steam, under-clubbing for once against Graeme Swann, the Kiwis were all out for 185, about 80 short of something competitive on a true pitch. England started boldly through Cook and Ian Bell, and their chase was never in doubt. A touch of carelessness ensured the passage was not seamless but there were some bright moments from Eoin Morgan, and Root's composure shows no signs of abating.
England won toss
B J Watling c Swann b Finn 1/0/0/10
H D Rutherford c Butler b Finn 2/0/0/19
K S Williamson c Butler b Anderson 7/0/1/12
L R P Taylor c Butler b Broad 28/0/2/52
G D Elliott run out 24/0/2/48
*†B B McCullum c Anderson b Swann 79/5/6/68
J E C Franklin c & b Swann 13/0/0/26
N L McCullum c Cook b Finn 4/0/0/8
A M Ellis c Woakes b Broad 9/0/1/11
K D Mills lbw b Woakes 2/0/0/6
T G Southee not out 5/0/1/3
Extras (lb3, w8) 11
Total (43.5 overs) 185
Fall 1-2, 2-11, 3-11, 4-64, 5-67, 6-99, 7-109, 8-146, 9-150.
Bowling Anderson 8-1-34-1; Finn 9-3-27-3; Woakes 9-0-34-1; Broad 9-0-38-2; Swann 8.5-0-49-2.
*A N Cook c Watling b Southee 46/0/5/67
I R Bell c Rutherford b Ellis 24/1/3/22
I J L Trott c Watling b Southee 38/0/4/44
J E Root not out 28/0/2/56
E J G Morgan c Mills b Ellis 39/2/5/24
†J C Buttler c Watling b Southee 3/0/0/4
C R Woakes not out 3/0/0/8
Extras (lb 1, w4) 5
Total (for 5, 37.3 overs) 186
Fall 1-42, 2-109, 3-112, 4-168, 5-171.
Did not bat S C J Broad, G P Swann, J M Anderson, S T Finn.
Bowling Mills 7.3-0-34-0; Southee 10-1-49-3; Ellis 8-0-35-2; N L McCullum 7-0-39-0; Williamson 1-0-9-0; Franklin 4-0-20-0.
Umpires C B Gaffaney (NZ) and S Ravi (Ind).
TV Umpire R J Tucker (Aus).
Match referee R S Mahanama (S Lanka)
England win the three-match series 2-1
Man of the match S T Finn (Eng).