New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington, 5th day March 18, 2013

We are not playing for draws - McCullum


Brendon McCullum has strongly resisted claims that New Zealand have gone into the series against England with a mindset of trying to avoid defeat rather than aiming for victory. Their previous Test series had been a torrid affair in South Africa, where the top order understandably failed to cope with the No. 1 bowling attack in the world, but he insisted there was no hangover from that contest.

The nature of the two Tests support McCullum's stance; they set the pace in Dunedin, scoring at nearly four-an-over in their innings as they tried to make up for lost time and never stopped trying to dismiss England for a second time over the final two days. Their approach to this Test in Wellington was dictated by a poor first day, which left them trying to make up ground and they fought back on the second, but once England reached 465 they had to set their stall out to save the match.

"If you've seen the way we've played in the last two Tests we've been reasonably proactive," McCullum said. "We go into every game trying to win, it's not about hanging on for a draw. We see it as a great opportunity to clinch a series win against England, which is something we'd all hold very fondly."

McCullum also defended the Test pitches and hopes the surface in Auckland is similar to those served up during the series so far. He is adamant that it has been the weather, rather than the nature of the 22 yards, which has led to two stalemates and set up a deciding match later in the week.

It has been hard work for the bowlers on both sides during the series, but there has been success for some to enjoy notably Neil Wagner in Dunedin and Stuart Broad in Wellington. McCullum made a pointed reference to David Saker's comments about the pitches not being ideal for Test cricket on Sunday, but is more than pleased with the conditions he has been given.

"I've read and heard a lot about our pitches being too flat. It seems to be bowling coaches who have an issue with them. It's always going to be the way," he said. "If you look at the first Test we lost a whole day to rain and there would have been a result in that game and in this Test as well we've lost a day and a half to rain and it would have been interestingly poised. There would probably have been a result, too.

"It's not three or four-day Tests, it's five-day grinding wickets were you have to work incredible hard for your fruits but I don't see anything wrong with our wickets and they have certainly allowed both teams periods of dominance. For me, I'd like a wicket similar to these last two [in Auckland]."

Alastair Cook maintained England's view they would like more bounce from the pitches. "In an ideal world, we would," he said. "It makes for slightly more exciting cricket certainly. Whichever wicket we get, we've got to try to find the best way of winning the game."

Even if there is more life on offer at Eden Park - which will use a drop-in surface and will host a Test just days after the latest rugby game at the ground - McCullum has seen enough of his batsmen that he is convinced they can adapt to the challenge.

"If it is a bit bouncier than we've seen in this one, and especially in Dunedin, we'll have to come up with a strategy to overcome it and I'm confident that the guys are treading in the right direction. We'll see how we respond," he said. "It's been a good series for us so far, we are learning a bit about ourselves and were we are at. We have made some improvements from previous series but we know the third Test is what we will be decided on."

He also backed his decision to bowl by saying, as Tim Southee did during the match, that the bowlers did not make the most of conditions. "Certainly no regrets in this game," he said. "If you do that you won't be able to get out of bed each morning. It was about the best way to win this Test, which was to get some favourable conditions on day one. Even though the Test didn't last five days we didn't see the wicket breaking up. I don't think it's too bad a strategy for playing Test cricket in New Zealand."

McCullum suggested that he favours an unchanged team for the final Test - his pace bowlers have had a decent break after England enforced the follow-on followed by the rain - although he will wait to see how Doug Bracewell comes through his domestic one-day outing on Wednesday, where he will test his injured foot, before making a clearer plan over how he will attack the final Test.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on March 20, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    @SamRoy on (March 20, 2013, 8:38 GMT) KP's SR wasn't that great in either of the tests. It was similar to Cook's in the 1st test and worse than Cook/Trott in the second. Nick's SR hasn't been good but he started showing signs of being more expansive in his last inns. But then again he had HUGE pressure on his shoulders recently with all the talk of him being axed.Every other batsman (maybe bar Root) could go on for a long time without scoring runs knowing they won't be dropped

  • sam on March 20, 2013, 8:38 GMT

    People who want to win should play positively. So in environments where the pitch is flat and you want to win the run rate must be greater than 3.5. Neither of Cook, Compton or Trott are exactly positive batsman. So if Pietersen and Prior don't bat long innings the innings run rate rarely goes into the healthy region (>3.5). If you can bat quicker, you can declare faster and give your bowlers more overs to get the opposition out twice. More than 50% of pitches around the world are very flat. Can't complain about that one though.

  • John on March 19, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    @kiwicricketnut on (March 19, 2013, 9:39 GMT) I always think you should not play for a draw to begin with but to be able to hang on to draw a game - SA did well in Oz recently - is certainly another string to the bow.

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2013, 14:45 GMT

    I honestly think there has been real quality from both teams in both tests. England batted poorly in the 1st test but NZ bowled really well and Baz set real attacking fields that forced them into mistakes. 9/10 wickets thrown away isn't true, 2 tail-enders hitting out after the highest partnership is not usually called "throwing your wickets away." Then Rutherford and Baz showed real quality in batting. Compton and Cook were also fantastic in saving the match, making it look quite easy actually.

    Then 2nd test, Compton and Trott, again made it look easy, but then Baz with aggressive fields and Martin bowling well restricted England. Then Broad, after all the stick he gets, came back with some great spells to get rid of NZ cheaply.

    England are the classier side and NZ are more prone to batting collapses and seamers not penetrating, but it has been great cricket allround.

  • Daniel on March 19, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    Imagine if NZ had got bowled out in their second innings just before the rain came - better to be defensive than naive. As shown by South Africa in Australia. The way Williamson in particular assessed the sitution and applied himself was excellent.

    Not that I'm saying Nz have been defensive this series, because they haven't been particularly

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    No excuses from our England team, we rank higher than them and supposed to be bundling them out regardless of the conditions. Obviously England are mile ahead of New Zealand despite those 2 draws.

  • jared on March 19, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    I don't mind if we are playing for a draw, sounds negitive i know but nz need to learn how to not lose a test, once they can do that on a more regular basis then look to win on a more regular basis. Not losing against the second best team in the world even if we don't win is actually a good result for nz if you consider how bad we have been the last few years. I want us to win but right now i'll settle for not losing.

  • Beau on March 19, 2013, 4:51 GMT

    A lot of punters showing a complete lack of cricketing acumen and even basic observation skills in the comments here.

    Baz has impressed at number 5? Really? That's funny, he's played at 6 all tour so far.

    NZ too defensive? Again, a strange interpretation, given that their run rate has been better throughout both Tests, England shut up shop on day 3 of the 1st Test, and McCullum has clearly and consistantly been more aggressive in the field than Cook.

    And despite the rain in the latter stages of both Tests, NZ has been suffering a severe drought this Summer, so it might be a big ask to prepare green wickets, don't you think?

    As for England winning the 1st Test if it had gone the distance... Well, the less said about that theory, the better.

  • Zak on March 18, 2013, 19:13 GMT

    McCullum is right we would have had two results had there not been rain, although, no bias included, I could have seen England winning the first test, getting 250 run lead and then bowling NZ out cheaply, unlikely but not impossible. Although the two tests would have been won because of two poor batting performances not because the pitches offered anything, to pace or spin. There needs to be a balance between bat and ball, effectively these pitches have done nothing, even if you go to India and people complain about no assistance for the seamers, but at least it spins from ball one. Really do think they need to look at using the Duke ball all over in test cricket, at least that way there will be more Seam movement and bounce later into the innings. Flat wickets = boring test cricket for the most part, and the ICC wonder why crowds are down

  • Dean on March 18, 2013, 18:05 GMT

    Does anyone know why Eden Park is hosting the 3rd Test?. In recent times NZL have tended to schedule their test matches at smaller venues due to the relativley small crowds they getfor tests. It seems a bit ironic that they have chosen to host this test match at the largest sports venue in the country. I would have expected Napier or Hamilton to have been a more suitable venue.