New Zealand in India 2010-11 October 24, 2010

McCullum likely to bat in top order

ESPNcricinfo staff

Brendon McCullum is likely to feature in the top order during the upcoming three-Test series against India starting in Ahmedabad, New Zealand coach Mark Greatbatch has said. McCullum gave up his wicketkeeping duties in Tests to concentrate on his batting and prolong his career, and could bat as high as No.3 during the Test series.

McCullum has had a successful year in Tests thus far, averaging 77.60 with two centuries, at No.7. He averages 34.90 in 52 Tests overall and New Zealand, reeling from a 0-4 defeat at the hands of Bangladesh in the recently-concluded ODI series, would want him to replicate his form this year at the top of the order.

"We've had a discussion with Brendon about where he'd like to bat and he wants to bat high," Greatbatch was quoted as saying in the Dominion Post. "He averaged nearly 50 in Test cricket last season batting six or seven but, obviously, he's changing tack in the longer version as a batsman only and he wants to make an impact. I think you'll see him near the top."

McCullum has opened just once in Tests and averages a healthy 40 when batting at No.3, which he's done in five innings with two half-centuries to his name. "Some bowlers don't like bowling to Brendon, he puts them under pressure when he plays well, so that's a positive," Greatbatch said.

New Zealand announced a 15-man squad for the Test series against India on Sunday, with call-ups for middle-order batsman Kane Williamson and fast bowler Hamish Bennett, who played two ODIs against Bangladesh and grabbed 3 for 44 on debut. "Hamish showed some pretty good signs in the past two ODIs," Greatbatch said. "He's got raw pace and we're trying to build some depth in that area."

Greatbatch added the Test series against India gives New Zealand an opportunity to rectify the lapses experienced during the debacle in Bangladesh, particularly with the team's batting. "It's a positive we're going to India for a Test series. The longer version means batsmen aren't in a rush and they've got an opportunity to bat for a long time; they get their mind right and get in on good surfaces," he said. "The team has got to show some good fight and courage and skill."