Nasser Hussain: England's top order can put Kiwi's to the sword

NASSER HUSSAIN: England’s top order can put New Zealand to the sword and keep T20 World Cup hopes alive… on what a good surface in Brisbane, they should take the attacking option

  • England play New Zealand on Tuesday and need a win to keep WC hopes alive
  • Jos Buttler’s side had their game on Friday against Australia called off due to rain
  • England can not afford anymore ‘slip-ups’ but cannot be cautious of that either
  • They must now utilise their top order batters to beat ‘streetsmart’ New Zealand

Everything is a must win for England now. And even if they beat New Zealand in Brisbane on Tuesday and Sri Lanka in Sydney on Saturday they will still be reliant on Australia not having a better net run-rate.

England have to believe they can win four games in a row, with the semi-finals and final to come next week, and become T20 world champions. And they have been here before. Remember, they won the 50-over World Cup in 2019 having lost to Australia and Sri Lanka in the group stages.

They will be buoyed by a change in conditions. England have already been to the Gabba for a warm-up on this trip and smashed Pakistan and the pitch here should suit them. As should the warmer weather — there might be a bit of rain around on Tuesday morning but it should be clear by the time they face the Kiwis in the evening. 

Jos Buttler (left) and Matthew Mott (right) will be hoping their top order can outplay the Kiwi’s

Harry Brook (pictured)is hoping to come out of his shell during New Zealand Clash

What England have not had up to now is a pitch that encourages free-flowing batting, but that is what they will be hoping to find here.

The same batting line-up that looked so good in the warm-up series against Australia and played so well in Pakistan got out of rhythm against Afghanistan in Perth and in the defeat by Ireland in Melbourne. Eoin Morgan’s England would always be full of attacking intent but Jos Buttler’s side have played the conditions a bit more here as, to be fair, we often ask them to.

But now, on what should be good surfaces in Brisbane and Sydney, they should take the attacking option because, however tough it is in a must-win game, the England top seven can take the game away from any opposition. They will be feared by opponents.

New Zealand have always been formidable in ICC events, even though they have never won a 50-over or T20 World Cup.

Trent Boult (pictured) celebrates after taking a wicket during New Zealand’s game vs Sri Lanka

England take on New Zealand this Tuesday at the Gabba and will be hoping for dry conditions

They always have tough, battle hardened but above all talented cricketers who always find a way.They have two excellent new-ball bowlers in Tim Southee and, in particular, Trent Boult with the potential for swing at the Gabba, a very good leg-spinner in Ish Sodhi, good all-rounders and a very strong batting line-up.

As we saw when New Zealand beat Australia, Finn Allen tries to make use of the powerplay more than any other opener in the tournament and if he bats through the first six overs everything falls into place behind him.

In Glenn Phillips, who made a century in the win over Sri Lanka on Saturday, New Zealand have a batter who has the potential to hit more sixes than anyone in this World Cup other than England’s Liam Livingstone.

Glenn Phillips (pictured) struck a century during the win over Sri Lanka on Saturday night

Liam Livingstone (pictured) announced his return from injury with a monster six vs Pakistan

New Zealand have always been a popular, likeable side and tend to do things in the right way. Like in Sydney on Saturday, when Phillips was standing at the non-striker’s end almost like a sprinter with his bat firmly in his crease, as a response to the controversy the game has had over batters being run out backing up.

They are just so cricket smart, as we see in the commentary box from retired New Zealand cricketers like Ian Smith and Simon Doull. They are streetwise and you would always want to go into battle with them.

England have learned a lot from New Zealand over the years and that World Cup victory was inspired by the way the Kiwis played their white-ball cricket in the previous tournament in 2015. But they should not be a side Buttler and his team fear now.

Rain caused England’s third World Cup match against Australia to be abandoned on Friday

England will now return to the Gabba for their fourth World Cup match after Ireland defeat

England have done the right things since losing to Ireland. All the words coming out of the camp have been spot on. There have been no excuses. No cliches about taking the positives out of a defeat.

Bad days in the office, as coach Matthew Mott described it, can happen in T20 cricket. If you have a bad powerplay, for instance, the game can be taken away from you, as it was against Ireland on Wednesday.

This is not a time to panic but the format and the rain that cut short the Ireland game and then washed out England’s match against Australia means there can be no more slip-ups. And they cannot afford to be cautious as a consequence.

If this game was in Perth or Melbourne I would be fearful for them. But as long as they can get their confidence back in the early stages on Tuesday, I still fancy England with that top seven.

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