England v New Zealand: Brilliance of Jos Buttler lifts England's confidence - Cricket - Sport - The Independent

England v New Zealand: Brilliance of Jos Buttler lifts England's confidence

England 287-6 New Zealand 253 (England win by 34 runs)

Trent Bridge

On the day one spectator left Trent Bridge £50,000 richer, Jos Buttler produced a golden innings that had England believing again they could take the winner's cheque at the Champions Trophy.

Buttler's international career is still in its early stages but he needed just 16 balls here to lift England's hearts with a remarkable display of true and fearless hitting.

Buttler's unbeaten 47 turned this match in England's favour and although New Zealand had already won the three-match series, this 34-run victory will make England feel much better about themselves when they start their Champions Trophy campaign against Australia at Edgbaston on Saturday.

He was not the only man in Nottingham to cash in so spectacularly. Chris Newell, 50, collected the £50,000 after winning a bowling challenge during the interval. Newell hit all three stumps, then two, and then one to take the prize supplied by cider brand Stowford Press, a partner of the England team. Alastair Cook and his players will hope it is a portent for the tournament ahead.

Buttler's attack will have been noted by Australia, and there were other reasons for England to be cheerful. Eoin Morgan, their most inventive batsman, recovered some form with 49 from 40 balls and put on 62 in 3.4 overs with Buttler, helping the team to reach 287 for 6.

Although they were a little expensive, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn took four wickets between them after returning from respective knee and shin problems. A soft dismissal denied Ian Bell a century but the opener's 82 from 96 balls was the kind of solid contribution he had previously failed to make this summer.

In sport, it is very easy to move from pessimism to optimism in the blink of an eye, and let us remember that this was a dead match.

Yet the Champions Trophy is such a short, sharp tournament that those who carry momentum into it will believe they can flourish. Had Buttler managed to hit a six off the final delivery of England's innings, he would have completed the fastest half-century in the history of international 50-over cricket. He failed only narrowly to do so, leaving the record of Sanath Jayasuriya intact.

The Sri Lankan reached his fifty from only 17 balls against Pakistan in Singapore in 1996; if Buttler continues to bat with such flair and courage, he may threaten that landmark again.

Before Buttler and Morgan came together, England looked as though they would be below par after losing the toss. With Cook out for a duck and Jonathan Trott and Joe Root dismissed in the thirties, England struggled to accelerate and Bell was caught at mid-off shortly before the batting powerplay had to be taken. During it, Morgan and Ravi Bopara showed uncertain footwork and poor timing.

Then Bopara was caught on the midwicket boundary and Buttler had his chance. He swatted the third ball he faced, off Kyle Mills, for six over deep midwicket. The next ball was flicked to the fine-leg boundary using the "ramp" shot that has become Buttler's trademark. Two deliveries later came a stroke of even greater insouciance, a reverse-ramp that owed everything to speed of hand, eye and mind.

Buttler took 22 from that over alone and New Zealand were suddenly flustered. At the end of his ninth over, Mitchell McClenaghan had figures of 3 for 34; his final one contained two no-balls, two wides, required 10 balls to complete and cost 20 runs.

Buttler's presence gave courage to his partner, Morgan, who hit McClenaghan for two sixes before striking another off Tim Southee to move within a run of his half-century. Martin Guptill's direct hit from mid-on denied Morgan the single but he had used only 40 balls and, crucially, had left Buttler on strike for the denouement.

Buttler's second and third sixes meant that if he hit a fourth from the final ball of the innings, it would beat Jayasuriya's record. Southee dug it in short, Buttler produced a cross-batted swing but the ball fell a few feet short of the rope in front of the pavilion.

At the start of their innings, New Zealand looked as though they would breeze to the target as Luke Ronchi and Guptill pierced the field regularly.

Guptill had scored unbeaten centuries in the previous two matches and England sensed their opening when the off spinner James Tredwell, standing in for Graeme Swann, turned one between Guptill's bat and pad and bowled him.

Before that, Guptill had scored 357 runs in one-day internationals without being dismissed, and ended the series with an average of 330.

When England hustled through New Zealand's middle order, turning 96 for 2 into 122 for 6, they sensed their chance and, in the end, they took it, though they were held up by an 84-ball 71 from Ross Taylor.

"We haven't quite got it right in this series, we've been operating at about 75 per cent," said Cook. "Jos's knock was the difference between the sides."

Man of the match Buttler added: "I got a good opportunity with a licence at the end of the innings to go out and express myself. The pitch was a little bit slower than expected but we got to a good score and defended it well, and it's nice to contribute to a winning performance."

Cook said of Buttler: “It's a special talent, isn't it? But it's talent he's worked very hard on as well. We've seen him play those shots for Somerset numbers of times and we're going to see him do it a lot for England. You need to be pretty brave sometimes as well.”

Thanks to Buttler, Cook and his men are smiling again. Those grins will grow considerably broader if they can beat Australia on Saturday.

Trent Bridge scoreboard

Third ODI at Trent Bridge; New Zealand won toss

England

Runs/6s/4s/Bls/Min

*A N Cook lbw b McClenaghan 0/0/0/9/10

I R Bell c N McCullum b McCl'ghan 82/1/6/96/146

I J L Trott lbw b McClenaghan 37/0/4/53/73

J E Root run out 33/0/1/50/53

E J G Morgan run out 49/3/2/40/68

R S Bopara c Taylor b Williamson 28/0/0/38/41

†J C Buttler not out 47/3/6/16/26

T T Bresnan not out 0/0/0/0/2

Extras (lb2 w7 nb2) 11

Total (for 6, 50 overs) 287

Fall 1-3, 2-69, 3-149, 4-153, 5-210, 6-272.

Did not bat S C J Broad, J C Tredwell, S T Finn.

Bowling M J McClenaghan 10-1-54-3, K D Mills 9-1-55-0, T G Southee 9-0-65-0, J E C Franklin 4-0-24-0, N L McCullum 8-0-35-0, K S Williamson 9-0-42-1, C Munro 1-0-10-0.

New Zealand

Runs/6s/4s/Bls/Min

†L Ronchi c Trott b Broad 22/0/4/17/24

M J Guptill b Tredwell 38/1/6/36/40

K S Williamson lbw b Root 19/0/1/28/38

L R P L Taylor c Bresnan b Tredwell 71/3/2/84/145

C Munro c Buttler b Bresnan 0/0/0/1/0

*B B McCullum c Buttler b Tredwell 6/0/1/12/14

J E C Franklin c Cook b Broad 7/0/0/19/18

N L McCullum c Broad b Bresnan 28/0/2/33/40

T G Southee c Cook b Finn 15/0/3/15/14

K D Mills not out 28/1/2/23/40

M J McClenaghan c Root b Finn 4/0/0/13/15

Extras (b2 lb5 w6 nb2) 15

Total (46.3 overs) 253

Fall 1-39, 2-70, 3-96, 4-97, 5-111, 6-122, 7-175, 8-196, 9-235.

Bowling S T Finn 9.3-0-57-2, S C J Broad 9-0-56-2, T T Bresnan 8-0-27-2, J C Tredwell 9-0-51-3, J E Root 5-0-34-1, R S Bopara 6-0-21-0.

Umpires Aleem Dar and R T Robinson.

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