McCullum's final Test will be 'pretty sad' - Boult
Brendon McCullum's farewell to international cricket at the second Test in Christchurch will be a "pretty sad" moment, according to fast bowler Trent Boult, who credited McCullum with uniting the nation behind their cricket team.
There was no shortage of emotion at McCullum's 100th and penultimate Test in Wellington, but expect that only to increase when the New Zealanders walk out onto Hagley Oval on Saturday. There will be a special cap presentation to McCullum ahead of the match, although there will be no fairytale ending after Australia's victory in Wellington, which meant the best New Zealand can do is draw the series.
"I think there was a lot of emotion in this one [in Wellington] to be honest," Boult said on Wednesday. "But his last one - it's going to be pretty sad, to be honest. Everyone has played with him for that long and he's good mates with everyone in the team. We're all looking forward to running out with him for the last time.
"He's changed the game, in a way. The way the New Zealanders have got behind cricket, behind the team, is because of him and his style of play, his attacking captaincy. He's going to be sorely missed. We'll look forward to running out with him one last time and then I'm sure he's left the team in good hands."
Boult is one of the many players in the New Zealand team who has thrived under the captaincy of McCullum, rising to No.1 in the ODI rankings and currently sitting at No.8 on the ICC's Test list. He debuted in Test cricket in Australia in 2011 and a year later McCullum was named captain alongside the new coach Mike Hesson.
"You can put it down to a lot of things, but he's a true leader and everyone looks up to him in the team," Boult said of his own success. "I owe a lot to him, to be honest. He is going to be sorely missed."
New Zealand would like nothing better than to send McCullum off into retirement with a Test victory in Christchurch, where they hope they will find a greener pitch than the one that was served up at the Basin Reserve. There was some seam movement on the first morning but there was little for the rest of the Test, although Australia's fast men surprised New Zealand by finding reverse swing in the second innings.
"We didn't get it to go at all," Boult said. "They got it to go nicely. We could learn a thing or two from them in regards to if nothing is happening on a flat wicket, then how valuable reverse swing is. They did that nicely, but I'm not sure how much we'll see of that down at Hagley.
"It's not something we do often see [in New Zealand]. They got it to go nicely and it worked very effectively for them. We'll have to learn from that and understand that when things aren't happening or there's no wickets on a flat wicket, you've got to look at other measures. I think they did that very nicely. It was pretty surprising."
This will be just the second Test played at Hagley Oval, the other one in December 2014 having provided New Zealand with an eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka after the hosts put on 441 in the first innings. McCullum made 195 in that match and Boult took seven wickets, including three in the first innings when Sri Lanka were rolled for 138.
"I think the wicket here [in Wellington] was a good wicket, but as a bowler I'd love to see it a lot greener of course as well," Boult said. "That way you can get a lot more seam off the wicket. It's going to be interesting to see what we get down there [in Christchurch] but I'm sure it will have a tinge of green as well."
New Zealand will be without fast bowler Doug Bracewell at Hagley Oval, after he was ruled out with a shoulder injury. Neil Wagner and Matt Henry are both in the squad and available to be called on to replace Bracewell.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale