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England take it to the maximum

Posted in England

Brendon McCullum & Luke Wright

Brendon McCullum can only watch as Luke Wright hits one of England's 15 sixes

At an Auckland ground accustomed to scores of seven, five and three - sixes and fours were in vogue during the first Twenty20 international between New Zealand and England.

Eden Park, the home of New Zealand rugby union, saw 23 sixes and 27 fours as the tourists’ best of 214 for seven played 174 for nine.

Key to the high scoring - England equalled the highest-ever T20I total, which happened to be made at the same venue in the first game of its type - were the exceptionally short boundaries.

At a stadium designed principally to accommodate a rectangular rugby pitch, the boundary down the ground was a mere 57 metres from the wicket and the those square just 10m further back.

Brendon McCullum invited England to make first use of what turned out to be the flattest of drop-in pitches and was regularly left wide-eyed from his view behind the stumps.

Alex Hales and Michael Lumb soon identified full-blooded hits were not required to clear the ropes, something Luke Wright did four times and Eoin Morgan plus Jos Buttler each managed thrice.

The tourists’ 15 maximums was the third-highest in a T20I and England’s most, eclipsing their 11 versus West Indies in defeat at the 2010 World Twenty20. Their previous best total was 202 for six in victory over South Africa at the Wanderers in 2009.

Having seen the standard set, New Zealand did their best to follow suit but were perhaps limited by facing half as many overs of spin.

Roneel Hira and Nathan McCullum had both bowled four, going for a combined seven sixes. However, Samit Patel and James Tredwell each got through two, which yielded a total of three maximums.

Although Luke Wright - who on a larger ground may not have sent down the full quota he did - conceded three sixes, the Black Caps were faced with the pressure of needing to score at more nearly 11 an over.

Jade Dernbach, bowling with more consistent pace than his variations normally allow, was the only bowler not to concede a maximum. Yet Wright and captain Stuart Broad, whose 4-20 was his T20 best, were less expensive - a reminder that six-hitting is not all in the shortest form.

However, with the second game at another small ground in Hamilton and the third and final match at a rugby stadium in Wellington, maximums will likely to continue to rain down in the rest of the series.

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