Cook joins happy environment
Alastair Cook is excited to begin the one-day international series against New Zealand tomorrow with a group of players who have just beaten the same opponents.
The England captain remained in Hamilton while Stuart Broad's Twenty20 team flew to Wellington to complete a 2-1 series victory over New Zealand with a crushing 10-wicket success.
Two of the architects of that win – openers Alex Hales and Michael Lumb, whose unbroken stand of 143 finished the decider more than seven overs early – are not part of the ODI squad.
Similarly, there are a couple of personnel changes for the hosts as they move from one limited-overs format to another.
Nevertheless, Cook - one of five players who arrived in Hamilton a week ago to prepare for the ODI series - senses such an impressive win can only give England extra confidence as they begin the second leg of their tour.
"Clearly any win against pretty much the same opposition you're going to be playing is helpful," he said.
"It's obviously a different format, so not that relevant. But it's great for the guys' confidence."
Cook, who has also confirmed Jos Buttler will retain the wicketkeeper's gloves in 50-over cricket after being preferred to Jonny Bairstow in that role in the sprint format, has just minor concerns about the readiness of some of his rested team-mates to immediately hit top form.
Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Jonathan Trott will be playing for the first time since December.
"It's great to have those guys coming back," said their captain. "In one way, they're a little bit undercooked - because the last time they played a game for England was 10 days before Christmas.
"Belly and I played a couple of weeks ago, so the other guys are probably a little bit underdone.
"They've had a bit of time off - which they needed. They haven't had a game to practise here. But they're world-class players who've played here before. So it shouldn't be too much of a problem ... and I expect them to be able to adapt well."
Those additions, plus Buttler getting the nod behind the stumps, mean it will be difficult for Bairstow to earn a place in the XI.
Yet Cook still envisages a possible role for the Yorkshireman as a specialist batsman.
"Jonny's played as a batter in Test match cricket, and done well," he said.
As for Buttler, Cook has no doubt he thoroughly deserves to be first-choice limited-overs wicketkeeper on current form.
He added: "It's quite clear Jos has done really well - in those two one-day games he played in India and those Twenty20s, he's been fantastic.
"So he'll be getting the first go tomorrow. He deserves his chance to take it on, and I've been very impressed with the way he's handled himself."
The series is an extremely important one for England's fringe players given it represents the last ODI action prior to squad being picked for this summer's Champions Trophy.
England have yet to win a 50-over global tournament, but reached the final last time they tried on home soil, losing to West Indies in the 2004 event.
"It's the last three games before we announce the ICC Champions Trophy squad - which will be about a month before we play it," said Cook.
"So this is the last three games for anybody to put their hand up for selection."