Ian Bell: Kiwis think on their feet but we run into trouble

Hats off to the Black Caps as they outplay and outfight tourists, who pay the price for badly misjudging pitch
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The Independent Online

New Zealand have reminded everybody here, and certainly England, that they are up for a fight. Their win yesterday will serve to make us realise that they are a serious one-day unit.

We arrived in Wellington on the back of two outstanding Twenty20 wins and were confident. But there was no question of taking New Zealand lightly. They might have been written off in some quarters but not by England.

At every training session we reminded ourselves that they are ranked third in the world and we are seventh, and that we were underdogs. We knew that with Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori back they would probably be a different proposition.

What happened, however, was that we were outplayed and outfought. Part of this came from misreading the pitch. At the start, everybody suggested that it looked a belter, a 300 wicket, on which the likes of Phil Mustard could be given carte blanche to go out and throw the bat. But it was not like that. Not at all.

It turned out to be slower probably than anything we encountered in Sri Lanka. So 300 was realistically out of the question, and maybe 200 became a competitive score.

The best sides, the most consistent sides, adjust quickly and accordingly. That's what makes them consistent and the best. Perhaps we did not think on our feet quickly enough yesterday.

But hats off to the Black Caps. They went into the match under enormous pressure and they responded really well. They bowled superbly straight on the drop-in pitch and fielded like tigers. We suffered three run-outs, which typified our efforts on the day a bit.

It shouldn't have happened, but in our defence I'd make the point about the peculiarity of New Zealand grounds. Many of them are primarily rugby stadiums – for which purpose they were built – which makes for some odd pitch placements and boundary perimeters.

It also means there is no conventional square so that a ball, struck from a drop-in pitch, is effectively travelling over a rugby pitch, softer, springier turf making the ball hold up.

Paul Collingwood's run-out, for example, looked a bit daft, but in England that shot would have passed the fielder and possibly brought him two. It is another thing we have to be wary of. The result was a setback for us after all our preparation, but in an odd way it's also set this series up really well.

There are four games left in the series and England certainly can't afford to play like that again. The pity of it was heightened by the fact that we had such a wonderful build-up, playing some really forceful cricket.

Our journey to Wellington was not the smoothest. Christchurch Airport was sealed off after an attempted hijacking by a woman wielding a knife, our flight was cancelled and we had to travel by road and ferry. An hour's journey took six hours.

So we did not arrive in the best of shape. But fortunately the plane on which there was trouble landed safely, with no serious injuries.

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