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Thoughts on the New Zealand series

One of the ironies of England’s whitewash is the strong New Zealand influence and inspiration. Ben Stokes was born there and new coach Brendan McCullum their finest white ball batter.

New Zealand got to the pinnacle by playing the expressive cricket that England have now exposed.

This new found confidence has had some surprising beneficiaries.

When Jonny Bairstow turned 30 a couple of years ago he must have wondered about the future. Ben Foakes who had a successful Sri Lanka tour was ahead of him in the wicketkeeper selection whilst Sam Billings was his age, Jos Buttler was and is performing wonders with the white ball and young pretender James Bracey of Gloucestershire was waiting in the wings.

Ben Duckett was no mean wicket keeper batsman either.

Yet Bairstow has had the series of his life.

Another who performed well was Jack Leach.

On that Sri Lanka tour a Somerset supporter praised his virtues but I could see him as best as a spinner that could hold his end.

At Headingley he took 10 wickets.

Finally Ollie Pope.

He is a class act but doubts remained about his stickability at the crease and he had never played at number three for Surrey. He has now established himself.

The only real question mark in the batting selection is Zak Crawley.

The doubts that Ben Stokes will be another Ian Botham or Freddie Flintoff have evaporated.

This side is scarcely recognisable from the one that lost ignominiously in the Windies or the one that did go for a fourth innings target not dissimilar under Joe Root.

Talking of Joe Root, his continued fine Test form must elevate him over Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson.

The Ashes next year and the confrontation with Steve Smith is eagerly awaited.

Of course this is a weak Kiwi side, propped up by the batting partnership of Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell.

Williamson left his form behind and novice spinner Michael Bracewell went for runs but few wickets.

Yet England were without Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes, the Curran Brothers, Olly Stone and Mark Wood.

Moeen Ali might now be tempted to make a comeback. He is a better batter than Leach. There are still problems with the openers too.

Above all, it has been an exhilarating series that had done much to improve the stock of Test cricket.

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About Douglas Heath

Douglas Heath began his lifelong love affair with cricket as an 8 year-old schoolboy playing OWZAT? Whilst listening to a 160s Ashes series on the radio. He later became half-decent at doing John Arlott impressions and is a member of Middlesex County Cricket Club. He holds no truck at all with the T20 version on the game. More Posts