And judging from their sole warm-up game against Leicestershire, where they bludgeoned 373 runs from 50 overs, the Black Caps will continue with a similar ethos in the ODIs. Of course, Eoin Morgan and Co. should know exactly what to expect; the same as what happened on 20 February in the World Cup group clash at Wellington. On that day, England were skittled for 123 by a skilful display of seam bowling led by Tim Southee, who returned figures of seven for 33. McCullum then smashed the ball to all parts, scoring 77 from just 25 balls, to seal an eight-wicket win with more than 37 overs to spare.
Except for the absence of the injured Adam Milne, the Kiwis starting XI in Birmingham will most likely be identical to the one that inflicted the drubbing in their capital city a few months ago. And the game plan will be similar too. Namely, McCullum and Martin Guptill go hard at the beginning. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor keep the scoreboard ticking over in the middle. Before the likes of Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi and Grant Elliott provide the finishing touches. In the field, Southee and Trent Boult are high quality pacemen and both are capable of running through sides, especially when the ball is hard and moving about.
On paper, England should be able to match their opponents in terms of batting firepower, but it's a different story with the ball. The inconsistent trio of Chris Jordan, Stokes and Steven Finn will carry most of the responsibility, and it will be interesting to see where the other 20 overs come from. One difference this time around is that England don't have much expectation and are simply looking to lay the foundations of a team that can compete in the 2019 World Cup. How long the hugely expectant English media and supporters will give this new-look team to jell, however, remains to be seen. In recent years, Edgbaston hasn't been a happy hunting ground for England with their last win coming in 2013 against Australia in the ICC Champions Trophy.
Given their empathic win in Leeds, New Zealand's confidence should be sky high and they will be a real handful for their hosts who have selected an inexperienced squad. Casualties from the World Cup debacle include Ian Bell, Gary Ballance, Ravi Bopara, Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson. In truth, many of these players are simply being rested in order to focus on the Ashes, but the door has been opened for the likes of Sam Billings, Jason Roy, David Willey and Mark Wood to make a name for themselves. Perennial squad members such as Alex Hales and Ben Stokes should finally get a decent run in the side and a chance to become established in the 50-over format.
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