Four months after the World Cup ended with a dramatic super over, England claim 3-2 series win over New Zealand in the Twenty20 in Auckland
It happened again yesterday. The stakes were less high and the tension less acute, but four months after England pipped New Zealand to the one-day World Cup on an obscure technicality, they had to endure another super over before they could call themselves winners.
Thanks to a six apiece from Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan, followed by some nerveless bowling by Chris Jordan, they were able to celebrate a 3-2 win in this Twenty20 series – and without recourse to boundary countback.
That regulation was consigned to history last month, much to the wry amusement of New Zealanders, who could have done with its abolition in time for the Lord’s final on July 14.
England captain Eoin Morgan poses with the T20 trophy after winning the series over NZ
Had they matched England’s super-over 17 on this occasion, more than 11,000 miles away at Eden Park, there would have been another super over (and, in case that finished tied too, another). But with Jordan finding his range, and Morgan taking a superb running catch in the covers to dismiss Tim Seifert, New Zealand could manage only eight.
If the Auckland version lacked the drama of Lord’s, when Martin Guptill was run out diving for glory, there was no disguising this young England side’s pleasure at clinching a series they appeared to have blown during the third game at Nelson.
‘It says a lot about the team,’ said Morgan. ‘It gives us huge strength in depth moving forward, and it creates a really good headache for us when it comes to selection.’
Eoin Morgan (R) plays a shot watched by New Zealand's wicket-keeper Tim Seifert
‘When you select a squad like we did you always run the risk of getting drilled, particularly away from home. We are further ahead than we thought.’
In another neat twist, the unenviable task of bowling England’s pair of super overs has now fallen to two close friends – Jofra Archer, who arrived in New Zealand a few days ago and was back at the team hotel, and Jordan, the man who persuaded him to move from Barbados to Sussex.
Had Archer congratulated him? ‘To be fair, he’d have had to text me first because I bowled England’s first super over back in Sharjah a few years ago,’ said Jordan. ‘I haven’t spoken to him yet, but I’m sure there’ll be a bit of banter later.’
Without Jordan, England wouldn’t even have reached the super over in the first place. They needed his last-gasp flurry with the bat, hitting Jimmy Neesham’s final three deliveries for six, two and four, to secure a tie. Sam Billings, who had laboured to 11 off 10 balls at the other end, must have been especially grateful.
England batsman Jonny Bairstow prepares to hit the ball during their T20 match with NZ
In a game reduced to 11 overs a side by showers blowing in from the Tasman Sea, both sides managed 146, exploiting Eden Park’s obscenely short straight boundaries to hit 27 sixes between them.
A message on the giant screen informed spectators that the venue aimed ‘to create a safe and enjoyable environment for all’, though bowlers on both ides begged to differ.
For New Zealand, Guptill thrashed 50 off 20 balls, Colin Munro 46 off 21 and Seifert 39 off 16. England replied with Bairstow’s 47 off 18, including three straight sixes in a row off leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, and a cameo from Sam Curran, who walloped Scott Kuggelein for 20 from four after being promoted to No 5.
Three wickets in four balls left England 107 for six with 22 to go, only for Jordan’s death hitting to pave the way for another improbably tight finish.
New Zealand captain Tim Southee had little choice but to take his side’s latest near miss on the chin. ‘Hopefully it will be third time lucky, if there’s another one,’ he said, allowing himself a smile at the madness of it all.