New Zealand is the most underrated team and are underdogs in every ICC tournament.
In a month’s time, England will tour New Zealand, playing five T20s and two Tests.
Part 1 of my preview of the series focuses on the T20 squad.
Eoin Morgan (c) (Middlesex)
Captain reliable. Expect a few half-centuries from Morgan in NZ, where he has a batting average of 69.50, his highest in any country.
Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire)
Dropped from the Test team, Bairstow is still a proven opening batsman. He hasn’t played a T20 since March although this is largely because he was rested before and after the World Cup, where he played a significant role in England’s tournament win. It won’t take the Yorkshireman long to get back into the swing of things.
Tom Banton (Somerset)
The debutant has been in junior international circles for a few years now and has had success this summer, scoring 549 runs for Somerset in the Vitality Blast, second only to his teammate, Babar Azam. He made his first T20 century for Somerset against Kent in August off just 51 balls, so looks set to open and keep wicket as well.
Sam Billings (Kent)
Billings had a frustrating Vitality Blast but still has the ability to provide useful contributions as a lower middle-order batsman.
Pat Brown (Worcestershire)
Another debutant, Brown has shown potential all through his career and was offered a scholarship at the University of Worcester in 2017, making his debut for the county that season.
Sam Curran (Surrey)
Having made inroads into the Test squad, the younger Curran brother makes his international debut here. He won’t make many appearances though, as his brother Tom is likely the preferred option.
Tom Curran (Surrey)
Can pick up a wicket when required and score good runs too.
Joe Denly (Kent)
Denly’s career seemed to be on its last legs not so long ago but now it has been given a new lease of life. Denly didn’t play in the Vitality Blast, with his last T20 match being for England in Cardiff in May, where he bowled one over which went for 15 runs.
Lewis Gregory (Somerset)
Gregory was used sporadically by Somerset, picking up 2-31 against Hampshire and 3-30 against Sussex. The debutant may be used sporadically by England as well.
Chris Jordan (Sussex)
Jordan is committed to T20 cricket, playing no other format of the game, and is a regular in the IPL, BBL and recently made an appearance for the Trinbago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League.
Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire)
Mahmood took the most wickets out of any bowler in this summer’s Royal London One Day Cup, with 28, and took eight wickets in the Vitality Blast. Mahmood was named the England Development Programme cricketer of the year in 2015 so it is great to see his hard work paying off with this call-up to the national team.
Dawid Malan (Middlesex)
Malan hasn’t played a T20 international since the last time England toured New Zealand, in February 2018, where he made a good half century and took a wicket as well.
Matt Parkinson (Lancashire)
Has consistently taken wickets in the Vitality Blast but will the first-timer be given a chance to employ his spin over Adil Rashid?
Adil Rashid (Yorkshire)
Rashid wasn’t involved in any county action this year due to his involvement in the World Cup. He will most likely be Morgan’s first choice spinner as he has a proven reputation for economic bowling.
James Vince (Hampshire)
Vince opened the batting for England against Pakistan in Cardiff in May. He scored 36 then and has the potential to improve on that.
My England XI
Eoin Morgan (c), Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton, Pat Brown, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Chris Jordan, Saqib Mahmood, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, James Vince
This is an experimental side that combines fresh talent with established matchwinners, which can take the fight to New Zealand.
The bitter rivalry between these two nations, intensified by the World Cup final, makes this five-match T20 series a mouth-watering prospect.
First T20: Hagley Oval, Christchurch: Friday November 1st: 12pm (AEDT)
Second T20: Westpac Stadium, Wellington: Sunday November 3rd: 12pm (AEDT)
Third T20: Saxton Oval, Nelson: Tuesday November 5th: 12pm (AEDT)
Fourth T20: McLean Park, Napier: Friday November 8th: 4pm (AEDT)
Fifth T20: Eden Park, Auckland: Sunday November 10th: 12pm (AEDT)
Next time, I will preview the Test squad for the two-match series that follows the T20s at the end of November.