England went into the two-match Test Series against New Zealand as considerable favourites to record a comfortable victory on home soil as good preparation ahead of the Ashes series which starts in July.
It was a chance for redemption for Alistair Cook’s men following the disappointing end to the series in West Indies where they played well below themselves in a poor defeat in Barbados – a result which came amidst unhelpful comments from incoming chairman Colin Graves.
The change in personnel at the ECB may result in a brighter future for the England cricket team in all forms of the game, but if the matches against the Black Caps are anything to go by, then there is still plenty of room for improvement at test level.
Defeat at Headingley cancelled out England’s win at Lords as the series ended in a draw – a result which may see Australia’s chances of winning the Ashes increase on http://www.bookies.com as they will offer a much greater test.
New Zealand deserve a lot of credit for the way they played in both matches, but while debutants Adam Lyth and Mark Wood impressed, the jury is still out on numerous aspects of England’s play.
Lack of bowling consistency
Batting collapses at crucial moments of the first and second Test may have been a contributing factor in England’s failure to win the series against New Zealand, but the inability to bowl line and length on a consistent basis was arguably more damaging.
James Anderson deserves all the accolades heading his way after becoming England’s all-time leading wicket taker, but while he and Stuart Broad remain the best bowlers at Cook’s disposal, they cannot always be depended on to do the business. Wood may arguably have come away from the series as England’s best bowler as he was the only one who showed real pace and a dangerous ability to continuously test the batsmen.
However, England will have to work long and hard in the bowling department as the consistency to hit a good length that will be needed against Australia was simply not there against a New Zealand side who took full advantage of a number of long hops and short deliveries that were asking to be hit to, or even over, the boundary rope.
Bowling to tail-enders needs to be better
When England needed to be ruthless against New Zealand’s tail-enders and gain the initiative in the match, they left them off the hook to score crucial runs through poor tactics from Cook and the bowlers. To their credit, Brendon McCullum’s team were excellent with the bat in their second innings of the second Test, but England turned to short deliveries all too often to try and unsettle the tail-enders into a mistake.
As the number of potential wicket-taking deliveries through bowling full or at a good length towards the stumps decreased, the number of runs increased for New Zealand who scored far too many runs in the latter stages of their innings to put themselves in a much better position than they should have allowed being in.
Ian Bell needs an arm around him
The man who was so instrumental in England’s triumphant win in the 2013 Ashes series with the bat is in dire need of a major confident boost, with Ian Bell under real pressure to hold onto his place in the team following a hugely disappointing series against New Zealand.
Scores of 1, 29, 12 and 1 are way below the standards of a batsman who has been a fantastic servant and played a key role in England’s success over the years, but the poor nature of his dismissals was symbolic of a man who is completely out of touch and has lost faith in his own ability.
To make matters worse, Bell, who is usually an excellent fielder, dropped a couple of crucial catches at slip which will not have helped his psyche. Cook will likely stand by Bell ahead of the Ashes series, and while the Warwickshire star has more than enough quality to bounce back in style against Australia, cricket fans have already pointed towards a number of in-form batsmen at county level who should replace him.