Skipper Brendon McCullum looked notably downbeat after New Zealand won the Hamilton Twenty20 match against England with their most comprehensive performance in recent memory.
Similarly, he shrugged his shoulders and offered a half-smile before trying to explain away his side's heavy defeat in the series decider on Friday.
Twenty20 internationals are like that. Aside from anything untoward happening off the field involving cash and shady characters (and there's no suggestion there was here), how can you explain the disparity of results from Auckland, to Hamilton, to Wellington in matches involving largely the same personnel?
The side who gain an early edge in the first 10 overs invariably ride their momentum to the end.
Asked to assess how the T20 sides stacked up after such a one-sided affair, McCullum said it was a head-scratcher.
"It's hard to look at it and say if we had done something better would it have made a difference. It's a real tough one to analyse because we were just poor across the board, and they were excellent across the board, hence the gulf between the two teams."
The same could have been said in reverse after Hamilton when New Zealand dominated, via McCullum's bat and the bowling of Mitchell McClenaghan and Ian Butler, who were welcome additions.
That pair were then sent into orbit in Wellington, but only had 139 to defend, as opposed to 192.
"The bowlers throughout this series have tried incredibly hard. Mitchell McClenaghan still kept coming in hard for us," McCullum said.
"We tried to use him in that attacking mode, but when they've got the freedom to play like that, they were able to up the ante and put us under pressure.
"There was some excellent hitting. We served them up a bit with the ball skidding on. We bowled too straight and our seamers weren't able to get any swing."
The series went to rankings, with England arriving fourth in the world and New Zealand eighth. New Zealand are a handy T20 side, but struggle to string them together.
England, the 2010 world champions, have enough good players to focus on a specialist T20 side with a different captain, Stuart Broad, who was also the player of the series.
Alex Hales and opening partner Michael Lumb, who hit nine sixes between them in blasting 143-0 off 12.4 overs at the Cake Tin, are T20 specialists.
Jos Buttler, the biggest hitter, is in the ODI squad but made his name in the shortest format, while Jade Dernbach also returns home but was a handy foil for senior quicks Broad and Steven Finn, all going at 140kmh.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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