Australia v New Zealand, 1st Test, Brisbane, 1st day

McCullum rues poor shot selection

Daniel Brettig at the Gabba

December 1, 2011

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Brendon McCullum cuts Mitchell Starc straight to point, Australia v New Zealand, 1st Test, Brisbane, 1st day, December 1, 2011
Brendon McCullum cut Mitchell Starc to point after beginning confidently © Getty Images
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New Zealand's batsmen are rightly cursing their shot selection after giving up the first five wickets of the innings with a flurry of poor choices. However, batsman Brendon McCullum believes the visitors are on course to reach a total that will stretch Australia's youthful top order.

McCullum creamed three boundaries from the debutant James Pattinson in the first over of the series, but later cut unwisely to point soon after drinks to expose the middle order to swing and spin. He was frank about the batsmen's failings, but retained hope of a fruitful Test match given the Gabba's potential for rushes of wickets.

"There are some very disappointed batsmen, myself included, all of us are pretty upset to pass up an opportunity to score some big runs on a challenging pitch against a very good team," McCullum said. "When you pass up those opportunities it always disappoints you. But can't stress enough it wasn't so much the deliveries themselves but more-so the build-up of pressure.

"When you see a ball that's not one of the better ones you try to dominate and that's where we came unstuck a little bit. Of more importance is we lost wickets before drinks, before lunch then straight after lunch. We pride ourselves on playing hard cricket during those times and today we let ourselves down before and after breaks.

"That first hour at the Gabba is always going to be the most challenging, and to get through that, to get to drinks and start after drinks and get out in the fashion I did, just before the spinner came on and I thought that would've been an opportunity to put pressure on with one wicket down. The timing of when I got out after putting in that hard work was hugely disappointing."

Grateful to Dean Brownlie and Daniel Vettori for a sturdy sixth wicket stand, McCullum pointed to David Warner, Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja, Australia's developmental top three, as an opportunity for early wickets if a total of 280 or more can be raised on day two.

"We still think we're not far away from putting up a competitive total, and if we can eke out a good two hours tomorrow morning then we put ourselves in a position where we're relatively comfortable with where we're at and have something to bowl at," McCullum said. "Hopefully we can expose some inexperience in the Australian top order as well, and try to utilise the scoreboard pressure we might create by batting first.

"Three hundred is competitive, 280's competitive, it's not like every other cricket ground, it is one of those things where if we do hit the right areas, any team can easily have a session where you run through six or seven wickets if you get it right, so we've just got to keep making sure we put ourselves in the strongest position we can."

Though he did not claim McCullum's wicket with a particularly searching delivery, Mitchell Starc had made the opener uncomfortable with earlier offerings, singeing his helmet with one bouncer and cramping his hands with swing and seam into the body.

"I thought I was a bit stiff not to get four leg-byes actually," McCullum said of the bouncer. "I thought he bowled pretty well. In terms of the length he bowled, he was probably the most challenging out of the lot of them. He's left-arm as well, being able to use his angle across you but also [challenging] when he came around the wicket coming from a wider angle as well. He bowled really smart today and got the rewards for it."

New Zealand have only played three other Test matches in 2011, but McCullum denied that had much to do with the batsmen's questionable shot choices. Instead he considered the occasion, against Australia in the first Test of their summer, had affected the visitors.

"We always want to play more Test cricket, but our dismissals today weren't because of our lack of Test cricket," he said. "It was just that we didn't execute the options we took, and pressure sometimes does that, and also the spectacle of playing Australia can sometimes bring that out in you as well. We're slightly behind the eight-ball but we're going okay."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by FatBoysCanBat on (December 2, 2011, 7:21 GMT)

tanstell87: McCullum is one of the only good batters that NZ has so to replace him is ludicrous because nobody can do what he does. His bothersome back prevents him from keeping wickets in test matches and if it flairs up during a game [which it would] you lose what he offers as a batsman. You mentioned Michael Papps...he hasn't even made decent runs against mediocre domestic attacks in the last 18 months, why don't they bring back Aaron Redmond while they're at it.

Posted by tanstell87 on (December 2, 2011, 4:00 GMT)

McCullum should retire from test & ODI cricket & play only T20s....first he isnt doing his side any favour by not keeping wickets & then playing stupid shots....he is doing this for a long time...NZ has to think of someone else for that opening slot....maybe Michael Papps ???

Posted by raptoron on (December 1, 2011, 22:17 GMT)

i think the NZ approach was the right one, if they had managed to get on top of the young attack they would have set themselves up for the whole series! Unfortunately for them the skill level didnt match the ambition, however if they bowl well the game is still live. You dont win games without some risk, the approach to try and win the series is still valid?

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 1, 2011, 22:12 GMT)

NZ need to anchor and play long patient inning. At present everyone try to hit out of the park...Nz must slow it down

Posted by Patchmaster on (December 1, 2011, 21:24 GMT)

Brendon McCullum has far too much 'swagger' for a guy who doesn't get big scores as an opener against decent attacks. I think he's a great guy, but needs to play less T20 and develop his Test Match mentality much much more. Alistair Cook showed just what a great opener can do to much better bowling attacks than this. I still believe McCullum has the potential to be an opener, but he needs to be stronger mentally. It will be interesting to see how David Warner does, the mirror of McCullum, who he might just make to look ordinary in this test. Fingers crossed that one of the best all rounders in the World (Dan the man Vettori) can bail them out again !

Posted by bumsonseats on (December 1, 2011, 19:03 GMT)

batters should have done what cook did during the last ashes and as an old england player used to say. book in for bed and breakfast dpk

Posted by gogoldengreens on (December 1, 2011, 19:02 GMT)

Don't think there are demons in the pitch most wickets were due to poor shot selection... The way Jessie Ryder smashed the ball to point straight after lunch makes you wonder if the 12th man didn't signal a dessert encore... either that or another pie was warm!!

Posted by trueindian on (December 1, 2011, 18:30 GMT)

@ Wefinishthis : I think your team misses the one yardstick....success! What if this team goes onto win with great contributions from Starc, Khawaja, and a memorable spell by Lyon? And ya, Warner has just debuted and he already grased one simple chance! By the way, I feel that the time is not right for Cowan. Hughes has to be given another opportunity( I know it is of no use). So when Marsh returns and if Warner fails, Cowan will get his chance but not in the near future. Leave that fast bowlers dilemma for now as it is a very messy one to gauge.

Posted by stuartk319 on (December 1, 2011, 18:05 GMT)

@Wefinishthis; although Siddle was excellent yesterday, I agree with you. I'm from Sydney and leaving Cutting out was ludicrous IMHO. Full credit to Brownlie and Vettori, but their job was made somewhat easier by some inconsistent bowling. @RoJayao; I don't think NZ are saying they will win, just that if they start OK this morning they could be competitive, which I agree with.

Posted by mrmonty on (December 1, 2011, 16:36 GMT)

Poor shot selection. Why, that's a specialty of most NZ batters. McCullum, Taylor, Ryder. They are like WI; talent implied, but never realized. Plus, they are pretty confident in retaining their positions due to lack of incoming talent pushing them.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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