England captain Alastair Cook hopes his team will learn the lessons from their first one-day series defeat on home soil in nearly four years after a Martin Guptill-inspired New Zealand clinched a NatWest Series triumph at the Ageas Bowl.
For the second time in three days an unbeaten Guptill century guided the Black Caps to victory as the tourists, who elected to bat first when captain Brendon McCullum won the toss, posted 359 for three, their best total against England in this format.
In favourable batting conditions in Hampshire, the late heroics of McCullum and Guptill, who carried his bat on 189, gave England too big of a mountain to climb as they were dismissed for 273 and fell to an 86-run loss in spite of an unbeaten century from Jonathan Trott.
Cook, pictured below, was left to rue the final five overs of New Zealand’s innings, in which their captain and man of the match accrued 79 runs between them.
“I think 320 was about par and very gettable to chase,” said Cook.
“The last five overs – that’s pretty much where they did the damage. But they earned the right to do the damage by keeping wickets in hand right up until that time.
“It was a tough day. Huge credit to the way Guptill played – 190 in a one-day game is a very special effort.
“But we’ve learned a lot about these players and about us as a side for the future and that’s what you can do.”
Guptill, it seems, has found top form just in time for next week’s Champions Trophy. However, while Cook insists back-to-back defeats are hardly ideal for England’s own preparations, the opener rebuffed claims it would damage their hopes of winning the competition on domestic turf.
He added: “As you look into that tournament from now you realise it’s two weeks of cricket and you’ve got to play your best cricket for two weeks and whichever side does that - because there’s eight quality sides there - will win that tournament. This will be of little relevance when we get there.”
Following the defeat at Lord’s, Cook acknowledged the top five batsmen needed to build on encouraging starts to underpin large totals.
And it was a case of déjà vu with only Trott’s unbeaten 109 standing out on the England scorecard. While none of Cook, Ian Bell, Joe Root and Eoin Morgan were able to reach 35, Kiwi counterparts Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor posted half-centuries while McCullum made a brisk 40 not out.
“The scoreboard pressure when you’re chasing 360 - that is what it is,” Cook conceded.
“You’re trying to keep up with the rate but trying to take the minimal risk. Trotty’s was an outstanding hundred but we needed those thirties, forties – at a lot less than a run a ball - to turn into fifties and sixties.”
England have failed to dismiss Guptill thus far and the powerful New Zealand opener has scored a staggering 292 runs in this series.
“I’ve not had the worst few days!” he joked.
“I’m pleased with the way I’m batting at the minute and long may it continue.
“I was gradually going through the innings and kept building partnerships with the other guys and that really helped me through and I was able to put on a big score.”
The ability of Guptill and his fellow top-order batsmen to adapt to the foreign conditions was a particularly pleasing aspect for McCullum.
“The boys are delighted to come over and play against a team as good as England, and where they sit on the rankings, and play against them in their own conditions and have wrapped the series up in two games and in a fashion that has shown how good a team we can be,” he said.
“It’s very, very special for the guys.”