The Fab Four label is often used to describe the quartet of Steve Smith, Joe Root, Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli.
Sunday, 14 July 2019. England play New Zealand in the World Cup final at Lord’s.
Sunday, 10 November 2019. England play New Zealand in the deciding match of their T20 series at Eden Park, Auckland.
You’re probably thinking, “So what, Josh? One’s a tournament final and the other one’s the final match of a bilateral series. That’s just how the tour program goes sometimes”.
If you agree with that, let me stop you right there and explain why I got a distinct sense of deja vu on Sunday.
Firstly, the match was delayed by rain. Rain delayed the start of the World Cup final by 15 minutes, whereas this match was delayed by two hours. So there are some slight parallels there.
Secondly, New Zealand’s innings was far better than England’s, as was the case at Lord’s in July. Martin Guptill and Colin Munro brought up a 50 partnership in just 16 balls. Guptill brought up his own 50 soon afterwards off 19 balls, the fifth-fastest international T20 half-century by a New Zealand batsman.
Despite beginning to lose wickets towards the end of their innings, the Black Caps continued to maintain a steady scoring rate to finish the innings at 5-146 from their 11 overs.
Tom Banton looked to kickstart England’s run chase as soon as possible, hitting a six down the ground off the fourth ball of the innings. However, he was out LBW next ball.
James Vince, in at No. 3, lasted only two balls before hitting one straight to the man at mid-off. England were 2-9 after just seven balls.
Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan answered the call for runs, scoring boundaries around the ground to get the score to 3-39 by the time Morgan skied one into the hands of Scott Kuggeleijn.
Kuggeleijn helped England get back on track when he bowled the fifth over of the innings, which went for 20 runs, with Sam Curran’s aggressive batting. The 50 partnership between Bairstow and Curran soon came up.
Then things began to swing New Zealand’s way once again, with Bairstow nicking one to the keeper before Curran was stumped by Tim Siefert the next ball. England were now 5-101 and needed 46 runs from the final four overs.
Lewis Gregory had the right idea, immediately shuffling down the ground to hit his first ball for six. Like Tom Banton earlier on in the innings, it was six then out. England were struggling at 6-107.
It was the turn of the older Curran brother to try and guide England over the line, but despite some good shots, including a six over the midwicket boundary, he wasn’t in for too long, departing for 12 off nine balls with England needing 13 runs off the final three balls.
Then the deja vu returned.
Chris Jordan’s six just managed to fly over Trent Boult’s outstretched arm on the boundary rope. Boult was on the boundary rope when Ben Stokes’s six managed to beat him in the final regular over of the World Cup final.
The final ball of the England innings was hit to the short fine leg boundary by Chris Jordan to tie the match. Cue the super over, much to Ian Smith and Nasser Hussein’s horror, as they had to commentate on another super over between England and New Zealand.
England actually won the super over this time. No boundary countback was needed.
Two sixes were scored, one apiece for Morgan and Bairstow, plus some singles along the way, to bring up 17 runs from England’s super over.
New Zealand never really got going in their super over, with Seifert trying to scoop the ball over the keeper’s head and failing before hitting a skier to Morgan, who excellently ran with his back to the ball to catch it. The Black Caps scored only 1-8.
England had won the match by virtue of winning the super over and with it the series 3-2.
Attention for both sides now turns to the two-match Test series between them, which will not count towards the World Test Championship but which will provide useful data heading into England’s tour of South Africa and New Zealand’s tour of Australia.
England-New Zealand series are renowned for being close, but please, for everyone’s sake, never play a super over again!