Champions Trophy challenges await
A not unexpected emphatic victory in the second test has provided England with a couple of important pointers of significance for the upcoming months.
They are, alongside South Africa, early favourites for the Champions Trophy and nothing boosts teams like consistent success to build confidence prior to a noteworthy event.
New Zealand again were average, but this series win has England primed and finely tuned for the month of June as well as the Ashes campaign beyond.
Whenever a team journeys to England, and in this case Wales as well, a variety of factors always come into play.
June is not the best of months for cricket and first up cold and at times inclement weather will derail one or two teams who will struggle to acclimatise initially.
The toss of the coin could well end up being a crucial determining factor if conditions are as expected.
Unlike decades ago the better players these days have had sufficient experience in all conditions around the cricketing globe to be able to work their games out and adjust accordingly to the unique challenges that are thrown up by English conditions.
Make no mistake, the ball behaves differently on those surfaces and such is the format of the Champions Trophy that whoever does not adequately alter their approach, both individually and collectively, will be making an early exit.
At the outset of the tournament it will be plain to see those teams that have done their homework, and if there are any turning up on a wing and a prayer.
It really is mind-boggling in this modern world to think that some national outfits will arrive for this tournament underdone.
One just has to think back at the state of Pakistan’s technical strategy when they initially fronted in South Africa last summer to know that it still happens.
The fifty-over game will provide a welcome relief from all the frenetic action of the plethora of recent T20 encounters.
The aesthetically pleasing serenity of the three active grounds in England and Wales will also be warmly welcomed following the off-field IPL deceit and skulduggery that has rocked the foundations of cricket in India.
Opening batsmen will be the most scrutinised subjects over the first three weeks of June. A brand new ball being presented at each end in favourable conditions will have quality seamers salivating.
The engine room willow wielders will have to adjust to what will seem a much longer game following the frenzied and frenetic nature of the IPL.
They will have to curb initial aggressive instincts to ensure a foundation is carefully laid to allow an expression of freedom that gathers momentum as the innings unfolds.
DRS will also be in operation during this ICC event and with that currently being an inconsistency in the game some teams have struggled to get acquainted with the system.
Its use will be closely monitored and those uncomfortable with it or intimidated by it will suffer.
This impending tournament excites me. My view is that seven of the eight teams on show could be victorious come June 23rd. Only New Zealand exclude themselves in my book.
‘Bring it on’ I say and let’s get fascinated by a succinct elite team tournament that will maintain excitement and intensity throughout.