New Zealand in England, 2008 April 20, 2008

McCullum to be backup opener in England

Cricinfo staff

John Bracewell wants Brendon McCullum as a backup Test opener ahead of part-time openers James Marshall and Peter Fulton © Getty Images

Brendon McCullum has agreed to be a backup opener in the Test series in England as long as he can hand over his wicketkeeping duties to newcomer Gareth Hopkins. Though the squad includes other part-time openers, Peter Fulton and James Marshall, New Zealand coach John Bracewell said youngster Aaron Redmond will be given a chance and if he gets injured, McCullum will take over.

"Brendon would play as a batter only and Hoppy [Hopkins] would come into the side as a keeper-batsman," Bracewell told the New Zealand daily Dominion Post. "It would be unfair to ask Brendon to do both roles. I've spoken to him about that and said only injury will force a change. Brendon's response was: if that's the case he would prefer to do the one job."

Bracewell said the team management wanted Redmond to simply play off the back foot and defend, like former opener Mark Richardson did. "Aaron's accomplished off the back foot and can rotate the strike and that was all Richardson could do. He [Aaron] is a guy who has taken on the opening position to become a Black Cap."

With no third specialist opener in the squad, Redmond is certain to make his Test debut this May. "The bottom line is, if you are looking for security, you can't offer more to a new player than a year's full wage [New Zealand contract]," Bracewell said. In preparation for the tour, Bracewell is getting the squad members to play with Duke balls used in England. "We ordered some in and the guys have been bowling with the Duke balls for the last month to make sure we are used to them and we've found out a couple of things about them."