The proclamation of a new era in England’s one-day cricket has been a regular event for the last 20 years. The end results have usually been so underwhelming as to not get carried away by one performance, but never has a phase of rebuilding begun in such barnstorming style as they managed at Edgbaston. England secured their largest runs victory in an ODI as rampant hundreds from Jos Buttler and Joe Root led them beyond the new watermark of 400 for the first time in an ODI.
Buttler, who already held the record of England’s fastest ODI hundred with his 61-ball ton against Sri Lanka, at Lord’s, last year slotted himself in at No. 2 as well with a free-wheeling 66-ball effort. Barely an hour earlier, Root had stood at No. 3 on the list with an equally outstanding 71-ball hundred but by the end of the innings – which included a world-record seventh-wicket stand of 177 in 17 overs, between Buttler and Adil Rashid, and an England record 14 sixes – he had to be content with fourth.
The final total of 408 – surpassing their previous best of 391 made against Bangladesh at Trent Bridge in 2005 – was the 16th total over 400 in ODIs. Five of those have come since the start of 2015, encompassing the World Cup, highlighting, if any further evidence was required, just how far behind the pack England’s one-day game had become. The mark was passed when Liam Plunkett cleared the ropes in the final over.
New Zealand were only ever going to attempt the chase in one way: at the end of the first over they had 11 runs on the board but Steven Finn had won a personal battle with Brendon McCullum when the New Zealand captain charged and missed, evening the scales somewhat after the onslaught he inflicted in Wellington. Finn bagged 4 for 35 and Rashid capped England’s day by following his maiden half-century with 4 for 55. From the moment Grant Elliott was run out by a superb throw from debutant Sam Billings at third man, New Zealand lost their last seven wickets for 38.
England could not have done more to live up their pre-series talk of releasing the shackles of a debilitating World Cup campaign (and arguably a backward mindset to one-day cricket that stemmed back to 1992). When they suffered a mid-innings wobble, losing 4 for 31 in seven overs, there was a risk that the 121-run stand in 15 overs between Root and Eoin Morgan would be wasted, but that could not have proved further from the truth.
Despite being six wickets down at 30 overs, Buttler and Rashid, playing his first innings for England since 2009, played New Zealand at their own game. The batting Powerplay – so often England’s downfall – brought 56 runs. Buttler needed just 24 deliveries for his second fifty while Rashid reached his fifty from 37 balls, although before unleashing Buttler shrewdly saw off Trent Boult, the main threat with four wickets.
It will barely be remembered but England’s latest new era did not have the most auspicious of starts when Jason Roy, playing his second ODI but batting for the first time after the rain-ruined match in Ireland, drove the first delivery of the day, from Boult, to Martin Guptill at backward point.
Boult made the major inroads for New Zealand, removing both openers then returning to end Root’s magnificent hundred on his way to 4 for 55. Those wickets encouraged Brendon McCullum to bowl him out by the 33rd over – although that was only an extension of his World Cup tactics – but without the rested Tim Southee and to a lesser extent the injured Corey Anderson, he did not have the same depth of resources to quell England’s extraordinary second charge. Mitchell McClenaghan was taken for 93 from his 10 overs, the fourth-most expensive figures for a New Zealand bowler, while Elliott and debutant Mitchell Santner were used at the death.
The response to the early loss of Roy was an enlightened one from England as they lived up to their promise of aggression by taking on the New Zealand new-ball attack. Root and Alex Hales added 50 in seven overs, forcing Brendon McCullum to turn to spin, in the form of his brother, as early as the fifth over before Boult struck for a second time when Hales top-edged a pull.
Then came the first major stand of the innings as Root and Morgan – two of the most established players in a young side – took up the cudgels in a 93-ball partnership which left the Edgbaston crowd in raptures and put McCullum under the sort of pressure he has not often felt in one-day colours in recent times.
Morgan’s first boundary was a confident strike over long-off against Nathan McCullum and one of outcomes of England’s aggression was an earlier-than-usual reduction in New Zealand’s slip cordon to the pacemen. Root benefited when he edged McClenaghan between the keeper and Ross Taylor at a wide lone slip to bring up his fifty from 41 balls. Later, in the 37th over, Buttler would also bisect the same gap off the same bowler when he was on 33, although a single slip was understandable by then.
A top-edged six from Morgan brought up the hundred stand from 84 balls and his fifty, just a third in 29 ODI innings, came off 45 balls before he was pinned lbw by McClenaghan – an on-field decision confirmed by the DRS. The innings then stuttered and when Santner won the battle of the debutants against Billings – this time a decision overturned by the DRS – England had reached the point of the innings when ‘double the score’ becomes the catchphrase with only four wickets remaining.
Yet they still doubled the score, in breathtaking fashion. Rashid struck the first six of a partnership that would include seven of them when he took on Santner, whose seventh over then cost 19, as the pair started to find top gear and Buttler went to fifty from 42 deliveries. Ten of the last 14 overs of the innings went for double figures, including 18 off the 47th bowled by Elliott. Rashid had been given a life on 37 when Matt Henry’s hands, rather the ball, broke the stumps in a run-out attempt.
Buttler gave a tough chance to deep midwicket on 90 which Taylor could not gather as he ran in and in the next over went to his second ODI hundred with a drilled boundary through the off side, which had been peppered throughout his innings.
While New Zealand are much more than a one man team, it was the sort of mammoth target that needed 20 overs of McCullum. Instead, Guptill tried to set a strong early tempo before edging a heave against Finn who also managed the notable feat of the day’s only maiden over. He later added Taylor, who top-scored with 57 off 54 balls in what was an encouraging performance.
The most eye-catching bowling, though, came from Rashid. Enjoying a day with a mountain of runs to play with, he lured Kane Williamson into finding long-off in his second over, helping to settle the nerves. His googly was in good working order and in his ninth over he had Santner well caught at slip then spun a wrong ‘un through Luke Ronchi’s first-ball sweep. Another followed when Henry was lbw, albeit to one that would have spun past leg stump. Still, an English legspinner in one-day cricket – whatever unfolds for this England team, for one day at least it did feel like a new era.