England’s lower gear, Stokes’ focus and Taylor on one leg


England completed a successful ODI spell away from home – adding victory in New Zealand the series in Australia – while the home side fought back to force a decider before slumping for the second time in a year. Both sides now break from ODI cricket, New Zealand for at least seven months, so what did we learn as the final 12-month lead-in to the World Cup approaches?
There was little doubt about England’s prowess on true batting pitches, but questions remained how willing they were to curb their natural instincts with the Champions Trophy semi-final against Pakistan and two startling collapses against the swinging ball, at Lord’s and in Adelaide, as examples. The victory in Wellington on a grubby, uneven drop-in pitch was, therefore, significant with them having to assess that it wasn’t even a 270 wicket and dig their way to a defendable score. In fact, the major collapse which came in this series was a new variety: losing 8 for 46 in Dunedin having been 267 for 1. But to knock off the runs in Christchurch in such domineering fashion meant that the batting bandwagon continued to role.