New Zealand’s Devon Conway hits a six in the win against Australia.
The storm clouds continue to gather around England.
Having escaped Melbourne’s daily drizzle for sunnier Queensland, in an otherwise dreamy week the forecast for Brisbane tomorrow – the day of their T20 World Cup Super 12 match against New Zealand – is filthy.
The hope is the clouds lift in mid-afternoon and the players’ performance levels rise with them.
England have toiled through much of their opening two matches, and probably the only players who can claim to have played well in both games are Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone.
But they have faced only 22 and 23 balls respectively.
England are rightly determined to use them less sparingly in future.
New Zealand, meanwhile, have breezed through their first two completed matches, trouncing Australia and Sri Lanka, the perennial outsiders once again making a mockery of widespread pre-tournament pessimism.
“They’re looking ridiculous,” England’s Harry Brook said yesterday.
“They’re looking like, for me, probably the favourites at the minute.”
In each of the Kiwis’ victories one batter – Devon Conway in the first, Glenn Phillips in the second – has faced around half the balls in their innings, scored at around 1.6 runs a ball, and anchored the side to a decent total.
At which point Trent Boult and Tim Southee have swung into action: they have gone at a miserly 4.62 and 2.91 runs per over respectively, and taken 10 wickets between them.
On both occasions New Zealand have batted first, and their success after setting totals reflects a significant shift between this World Cup and the last.
It has not taken teams long to cotton on: captains chose to bat first only 13 times in the United Arab Emirates last year, compared with 17 times already this year – including all three of yesterday’s fixtures. But despite that, of the six occasions when Jos Buttler has won the toss, he has chosen to bat first just once.
As with their pedestrian run chase against Ireland – Brook admitted that, with England behind on DLS, rainclouds gathering and rain forecast, he was “just trying to take it deep” – it seems sometimes the truth can be a little slow to dawn on this side.
In yesterday’s games South Africa have risen to the top of Group 2 after winning by five wickets in Perth against India, who remain second. However, Bangladesh’s victory over Zimbabwe keeps them in contention and Pakistan are also still alive after demolishing the Netherlands.