Of all the matches I’ve watched this winter, last night’s one-dayer was one of the hardest to stomach, despite the win. Watching England desperately try not to lose it was like witnessing a coke addict turn down a line. They spent 50 overs trying their damnedest to hand the game back to New Zealand, and very nearly pulled off a spectacular loss which, even by their own lowly standards, would have been one for the memories. Losing becomes a habit much as winning does; teams get stuck in a seemingly cavernous rut, without a rope to haul them out.
England managed it – or rather Flintoff did – but it was messy. And for those not happy with my verdict, a reminder: this was England’s first win, in any form of cricket, since October 28. It was a microcosm of England’s greater problems, particular in one-dayers.