England v New Zealand – A day at the T20: a spectator’s experience

By Noy Shani  @NoyShani  @TLE_Sport

The London Economic’s Noy Shani was in Old Trafford on Tuesday to watch the international T20 between England and New Zealand, witnessing the hosts see the tourists off in style with a smashing comeback.

It was a more than worthwhile evening at Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester.  An evening that re-established England as a cricket power to be reckoned with and concluded a highly entertaining series with the touring New Zealanders.

Having won the ODI series on Saturday by three games to two and drawn the test series at one apiece, England seemed to be heading to a defeat.  However, an inspired 20 minutes with the ball turned the match on its head.

Following a disastrous World Cup campaign, England replaced its head coach, Peter Moores.  From looking pedestrian and predictable they now look fresh and exciting as they smash records left, right and centre.

The atmosphere could not have been better with a gloriously sunny Manchester evening, the kind of those you rarely get, certainly not clear blue sky and 20 degrees Celsius.  I should know – I lived in Manchester for almost six years.

It was my first international T20 experience and as soon as I arrived to the ground I noticed how immaculate the organisation is and how well behaved the fans are.

The Lancashire Cricket Ground put on an impressive effort to entertain 20,000 plus spectators with a wide selection of food, live music, bars and even a picnic-style sitting area.

The cricket on the field was no less thrilling.  England won the toss and chose to bat first with 25-year-old Jason Roy earning his second international T20 cap.

Roy hit 23 runs off 13 balls, including two sixes, including one just above mine and my wife’s head in the family stand that forced us to duck.

Every six or four sparked celebrations, loud music and fire displays.  To a football fan like me who has recently got into cricket in the past six months, it was actually quite refreshing and entertaining.

Joe Root scored 68 of 46 balls to leave England 157-6 in 17th over.  A further push towards the end of the innings saw them finish with 191-7, a competitive score but by no means out of reach for the attacking Kiwi batting line-up

It was around twenty minutes to nine o’clock when New Zealand’s turn to bat came and the weather was still perfect with clear blue skies.

Nobody could have written the script of how the second innings turned out.  The only comparison I could make, as a football fan, is to imagine your team leading 3-0 after about 70 minutes and losing 3-6 twenty minutes after.  Yes, that shocking.

New Zealand lost Martin Guptill early but brilliant batting by Brendon McCullum with 35 off 15 balls including four sixes, accompanied by a composed display from Kane Williamson, had the Black Caps running riot at 73-2 after only six overs.

Ross Taylor, Colin Munro and Luke Ronchi did not capitalise on their chances and were quickly removed by Mark Wood and Ben Stokes, bringing the visitors to 101-5 after 10 overs.

Not being English myself, I came as a New Zealand supporter with my Christchurch-born wife, so you see, at this point I sensed something was not quite right. Statistically, half way through and needing ‘only’ 91 more runs, I said to myself, yes it’s possible, but I really started doubting it.

Williamson came back and started playing it safe, keeping thee scoring ticking along together with Mitchell Santner.

Then, within a space of three minutes they were both gone.  First to go was Santner who missed a straight ball from Mark Wood to leave the Kiwis 131-6 with just 33 balls to go.

Following in his footsteps, Kane Williamson was soon dismissed too, run out by David Willey for an impressive 57.

After that New Zealand fell apart as the wickets tumbled.  Tim Southee was the next victim, Nathan McCullum bagged only four runs and last man standing Mitchell McClenaghan was on the pitch barely one minute, as England secured a thrilling victory by 56 runs.

To conclude, I’ve got to say, the atmosphere on and off the field was spectacular.  Surely this series has earned New Zealand and England lots of new fans around the globe and gave English cricket renewed hope for the future.

I returned to London happy.  I even got a picture I tweeted onto the screen in Old Trafford.

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