Make it Mitchell for profits
Our Dave Tickner believes the value for the New Zealand v England T20 series lies with Mitchell McClenaghan.
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England's tour of New Zealand may one day come to be seen as the blueprint for bilateral international cricket: three T20s, three ODIs, three Tests. In that order.
Certainly, it's a relief to see none of the three formats reduced to two matches, while the five-match ODI series is increasingly losing its appeal.
This looks a good tour format. There seems a happy internal logic in having three matches per format and having the formats build up in length and prestige.
So we start, then, with the T20s. These are always tough to call when the Test-playing nations are involved and, with New Zealand's weather capable of being every bit as capricious as England's, even a three-match series can't be sure of producing a positive result.
To my mind, the outright prices look about right. England are maybe a fraction short, but not unreasonably so. They have won their last five T20s against New Zealand, although given the speed with which T20 sides evolve only the most recent of those victories, at September's World Twenty20, has any real relevance.
More relevant is surely the fact that of the five three-match T20 series played between two Test nations, four have ended 2-1 while England v South Africa last year ended 1-1 with a wet no-result at Old Trafford. So fine are the margins in T20 cricket, and so plentiful the matchwinners all sides have available, that to win 3-0 is a stretch.
Therefore while I won't be getting involved in the outright markets, I would suggest that whether you like England or New Zealand then it's worth looking to boost those prices by backing your selection to prevail 2-1.
One market where there does appear value is the New Zealand top bowler, where Mitchell McClenaghan's claims look to be underestimated.
After an injury-interrupted start to his career, the 26-year-old is starting to come good on the promise he showed as a youngster.
His relative lack of experience in domestic cricket (he has played only 26 first-class games, 27 List A and 11 T20) for a player of his age points to the struggles he had in his early days at Central Districts.
But a move to Auckland appears to have been the making of the left-arm quick, who announced himself in style during New Zealand's recent tour of South Africa.
He took four wickets in the three-match T20 series and then added six more in three ODIs, impressing with both his pace and accuracy in both short forms of the game.
In that pre-Christmas T20 series, only Doug Bracewell took more wickets for the Black Caps, and he's not in the squad to face England.
This market is headed by Trent Boult who is an undeniably talented cricketer, but has never played T20 international cricket, made a modest start to his ODI career, and has an inferior record to McClenaghan domestically.
A couple of layers have Boult and McClenaghan joint favourites, but I'd go further and say that, in Bracewell's absence and after his efforts in South Africa, the latter deserves outright favouritism.
- The series is being televised live in the UK on Sky Sports. The first match takes place at 0600 GMT on Saturday.