England v New Zealand: Hosts offer glimpse of exciting future
The difference between England's performance at Edgbaston and their nightmare World Cup was so great it is difficult to put into words.
During the tournament down under, England often talked of playing with freedom and positivity.
But the campaign ended in the embarrassment of a first-round exit that was confirmed with a dismal defeat by Bangladesh in Adelaide.
Before their first home one-day international since the calamity in Australia and New Zealand, there was more of the same chatter, mixed in with hope of a new era.
This time, against beaten finalists New Zealand, England actually delivered, racking up 408-9 - their highest ever score - in a 210-run win, their largest ODI victory in terms of runs.
At the World Cup, England's loss to Bangladesh was particularly horrible, a match in which they looked like they were strangling themselves. There was no spark about the team, they were utterly insipid and totally flat.
In Birmingham, with a caretaker coach and six players who were not at the World Cup, the freshness was so palpable I could feel it when I arrived.
There were some mitigating factors in England's record-breaking effort - a fantastic pitch, a lightning fast outfield and a mediocre New Zealand attack without the retired Daniel Vettori and rested Tim Southee.
But that takes nothing away from a very different England attitude, one that was tested when the home side found themselves 0-1 after only one ball of the match.
That brought Joe Root to the crease, with the Yorkshire batsman riding the wave of some brilliant Test form.
He had some luck, but that often happens when a batsman is in a good place. In his chirpy, chatty manner, with a smile on his face, Root sparkled on his way to a 77-ball hundred. At the time, it was the third fastest by an England batsman in an ODI.
When Root was caught behind off Trent Boult, he was replaced by Jos Buttler with England 180-4. That situation would worsen to 202-6 at the end of the 30th over. The innings was in the balance.
Buttler, though, was brilliant for his 129. His century came in 66 balls, the second-fastest by an England batsman behind his 61-ball effort against Sri Lanka last year.
The wicketkeeper's rise has been meteoric. I mentioned on Test Match Special that he could even be England's next captain.
Buttler, 24, is such a mature young man, who is calm under pressure and makes good decisions when he is batting. He makes occasional mistakes with the gloves, but far fewer than we might have expected.
The Lancashire man is a lynchpin of this side and an individual that the England set-up are very impressed with.
|England's highest one-day totals|
|363-7 (55 overs)||Pakistan||Trent Bridge||1992|
Another big positive for England was the innings of captain Eoin Morgan, who supported Root with a 46-ball 50.
I was surprised when Morgan was given such a strong vote of confidence by cricket director Andrew Strauss, but there are a couple of reasons why the Irishman was backed so strongly to stay on as skipper.
The first is that his presence does not undermine Test captain Alastair Cook in the way that a ready-made replacement like Root might do.
Secondly, Morgan was thrown the captaincy only two months before the World Cup started and even though he did not have the best tournament, England might feel they owe him the chance to build a team.
Morgan might get some credit for this new approach, but it is no coincidence that England's new-found positivity has come with Paul Farbrace acting as caretaker coach.
Farbrace has tasted limited-overs success before, leading Sri Lanka to the World Twenty20 title last year.
More importantly, he would have worked with players that needed very little coaching or controlling - the likes of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.
Farbrace knows how to deal with a talented limited-overs player. Rather than moulding, you help. It is hard to know what to expect of incoming coach Trevor Bayliss but given the fact he worked with Farbrace at Sri Lanka and has had success in various Twenty20 leagues, perhaps it will be more of the same.
Under Bayliss, England's challenge will be to recreate this display both in the short-term and through to the next World Cup. How often have we seen a supposed new direction after a failed tournament only for it to be ripped up just before the next World Cup begins?
What is certain is that this team have gone in a new direction - it is highly unlikely that we will see the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad again, which could add some time on to their Test careers.
England's positive approach could lead to some inconsistency, there will probably be times when they fail. The Edgbaston win is just one big innings, one win in one match. The difficult part is to marry aggression with regular strong performances.
However, England have proved to us they can do it. More importantly, they have proved it to themselves.