England will start a five T20 and three ODI series against New Zealand on Friday afternoon (Kiwi time anyway, 01.45 GMT, and a very reasonable 19.45 Thursday evening in my time zone). I’d say England are strong favourites. They go in both in very good form in the warmups (all three of which they won convincingly) and over the past year and a bit in general. Since the start of 2011 they have lost only four of 21 completed matches in both the fifty and twenty over formats, including beating New Zealand once in each at home last summer. Of course, the men’s team have shown clearly that winning at home is very different from winning on the road, but the difference in conditions between England and New Zealand will not be nearly as large as that between England and the UAE. To further boost England’s hopes, New Zealand come in to the series on the back of a very disappointing tour of Australia. They lost the T20 series 1-4, the one win being in a dead rubber, and they were crushed by nine wickets and 200 deliveries in the only ODI that was not washed out.
I don’t think it’s unrealistic to expect England to win the T20 series at least 4-1, perhaps even 5-0. England only lost one T20 last year and had the best run rate of any team in that time, seven runs per over. England have not had quite the same advantage in ODIs, winning seven of ten last year, but still look much the stronger side. They were not troubled in South Africa, winning all three matches by comfortable margins. England’s success in South Africa was based in large part on sizeable contributions from the top order, with the captain Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway being the standout performers both in the T20s and ODIs. The bowling was very good too, however, the most they conceded in a single innings in 2011 was 235, though Australia probably would have gone past that at Perth had they not achieved their target. For a New Zealand side that struggled a bit with the bat in Australia, that is not good news. When one adds in the fact that the Kiwi bowlers had the worst ODI economy rate in women’s cricket in 2011, I can’t see them getting close to England in the series. Barring an intervention by the weather I’m predicting a 3-0 win for the tourists. Unfortunately there are not any Tests being played on the tour and disappointingly England have played only three since 2006, the most recent being in Australia a year ago.
The T20 matches will start at a very awkward hour in the UK, but it won’t be difficult to catch the start of the ODIs, which begin at 21.30 GMT. In any case it might be worth it to get/stay up. After the debacles the men’s side have had in the subcontinent and nearby areas it will be very nice to see what should be a comfortable win. Unfortunately, the first T20 won’t be on Sky Sports until after the New Zealand men’s T20 ends, about 03.30 GMT. (I’m not sure about the subsequent matches.) It’s rather frustrating seeing as the match that is being given priority is the one in which England are not playing, but even more irritating is the fact that there seems to be no radio coverage at all. Living in America, I don’t get Sky Sports at all so I will have to make do with Cricinfo’s rather minimalist ball-by-ball coverage. Hopefully the rest of you can enjoy it, however. Record it and watch it at a reasonable hour if nothing else.