After their two rounds against New Zealand, the England men felt the painful side of an impact in their third Twenty20 at Edgbaston.
Powerful punches from Finn Allen and Glenn Phillips reignited the visitors’ cause as New Zealand scored 202 to five. England, the big pursuers, stumbled at the first fence and never got back up, bowling 74 runs short in the 19th. After wasting their own power play by 25-to-1, they were up 67-4 at halftime and, despite their depth, never seemed to recover.
For New Zealand, it was a satisfying start to a series that had seemingly caught them off guard. “As a team, we try to stay pretty calm whether we’re winning or losing,” said Allen, the 83-run, 53-ball player of the game. “We wanted to focus on our individual roles and we’ve done that pretty well as a team… That’s something we’re good at as a team, going into every game with a new attitude.”
In the first two games, the New Zealand bats missed and Allen was frustrated by his own failure to capitalize on good starts. On Sunday, the first few swings and throws looked like someone hand-cranking a Model T. New Zealand’s gearbox was still crunching, Devon Conway was spinning too slowly to make a third run and a good throw from Moeen Ali caught him on his crease.
Allen survived his own run-out scare, not to mention a skyer for Will Jacks, who covered a heroic distance from deep center of the wicket only to drop it within striking distance of Chris Jordan, who made his own run-out had made the long leg. But Allen planned on hitting until something came loose, and this time it happened.
Working with Phillips, the engine finally started to purr after Tim Seifert was left behind by Liam Livingstone. Phillips was in commanding form, unleashing a powerful move against Livingstone and when Jos Buttler brought Adil Rashid back in the 15th, he was faced by Allen with three straight sixes. The first went towards Kidderminster, the second towards Coventry and the third went over the bowler’s head back towards Worcester before the Pavilion got in the way.
“I changed my approach against spin a bit, so it’s nice that it worked against one of the best spinners in the world,” Allen said. The partnership scored 88 in 47 balls and after Allen was bowled by Luke Wood, Phillips continued. He had 69 runs on 34 balls when Gus Atkinson defeated him with a York. The fast England bowler substantiated his usefulness on death when he skimmed Daryl Mitchell’s glove to knock him off four balls later.
Tim Southee had replaced Lockie Ferguson and Adam Milne with Kyle Jamieson and Matt Henry and the decision paid off as England’s top man struggled to knock either player off the field. Jacks was out in Jamieson’s first over, attempting a massive shot and only managing to mark the ball; His 11 eight-ball runs represent a downtrend in these games so far, having previously posted 22 and 19 points. Dawid Malan scored two runs from an inning that lasted 11 balls but felt a lot longer, and when Jonny Bairstow was out of the game-sweeping England were 30 for three and six overs behind.
Harry Brooks’ first failure in the series couldn’t have come at a worse time. Ish Sodhi had just been denied the second of two LBW decisions by DRS when Brook pulled the next throw in the middle.
While Buttler tried to put up any meaningful resistance alongside Moeen, Sodhi and Jamieson each took three wickets in the midst of the inevitable holes. “They did what we didn’t do, which is to have this important partnership,” said England batting coach Marcus Trescodick. “We had to partner, and we never really did that to begin with.”
This was Edgbaston’s first attempt at a carbon neutral game: no single-use plastics, free shuttle buses, increased use of renewable energy. Perhaps England did its bit by encouraging people to turn off their televisions. They also have a lasting result to their credit: the loss here keeps the series alive for Tuesday’s game at Trent Bridge.