England in New Zealand 2012-13 March 27, 2013

McCullum excited by emerging depth


In the immediate aftermath of seeing a series victory prove agonisingly elusive it was understandably difficult for Brendon McCullum to look at the bigger picture. However, when he reflects on these contests against England he will be able to take huge pride in the strides made by his team over the last month, which have offered hope of a more stable future for New Zealand's Test cricket.

At the beginning of the series McCullum said he wanted his team to compete against England - his players exceeded those ambitions and twice pushed the visitors close to defeat. One of the most troubled areas for New Zealand, the openers, has been given new stability by the emergence of Hamish Rutherford and the rebirth of Peter Fulton, while the pace-bowling stocks are reasonably well resourced.

"There have been huge positives in this series," McCullum said. "The top of the order, which has been such a problem for so long, to have two guys coming into the series - Peter with his recall and Hamish with his debut - and both to get hundreds, and Peter to back it up, it's a great story I think. The bowlers as well, they have been huge throughout the series. There were some really nice positives, although right now it's hard to look past not getting the win."

After the problems in South Africa, McCullum said he wanted to identify a group of players and show faith in them rather that reacting to each setback. For the first time, New Zealand went through a three-Test series unchanged (England also only made one change, and that too enforced because Kevin Pietersen got injured) despite the intensity of back-to-back matches.

"It has been great for us to be able to do that, and playing the same team has enabled guys to work out where they fit in and how guys work around them," McCullum said. "Combinations start to formulate through familiarity. We've performed well enough to continue with the same XI guys and they were huge, especially the bowlers, and the other good thing is we have some excellent cricketers waiting in the wings. If we look back a couple of months we were searching a little, whereas now we are starting to bed down a group of players who are capable of moving the team forward."

A few of the New Zealand players now head to the IPL, although McCullum's early participation could be in doubt after the hamstring injury he picked up on the final day at Eden Park. Those who do have an IPL stint - Ross Taylor for one - are set to miss the opening match of the England tour, in the ongoing battle between the demands of the modern schedule, before arriving for the Lions game at Grace Road ahead of the first Test.

New Zealand will be able to enter the return series in confident mood and McCullum hopes that the team's performances over the last few weeks have given the supporters a lift.

"I hope they are proud of the characteristics we are showing at the moment, fighting characteristics and the ability to at least hang in games against the best players on a consistent basis," he said. "We know we've let our fans down over the last little while, but we are hoping we are starting to trend in that right direction."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • vikram on March 28, 2013, 6:38 GMT

    Firstly Cheers to Captain for agreeing to Martin Crowe's Letter http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/592518.html.......I think this is the first time in so many years NZ has played once again as a good team in a Test altogether they have played few semifinals in between in World Cups for ODI & T20....Keep it up....

  • Angus on March 27, 2013, 18:31 GMT

    @ harry34 and pardo - I wouldn't rush Dan back in if he's fit in May. Bruce was disappointing in the 4th innings, possibly even had the yips, but he was very good in the first two tests and he contributed with the bat as well. Dan has to start turning the ball rather than rely on pace variation to get good test batsmen out, something his record of late indicates he isn't doing. Good players can keep him out too easily. Bruce may not be the long term option, but imo at the moment he's a more attacking spinner than Dan.

  • Cricinfouser on March 27, 2013, 9:58 GMT

    It was heartening to see NZ fight, after long i saw the whole fighting together. I would suggest NZ board that please ignore IPL because it will spoil the momentum in which team is right now. It is for the betterment for NZ cricket.

  • jared on March 27, 2013, 9:55 GMT

    That XI has to go to england, none of them did anything wrong. There is still alot of room for improvement though and we can't settle for mediocrity if we are going to be a force in world cricket. There are a couple of percieved weaknesses in the side, for me its not the players used they all deserve the trip to the uk, its more the balance of the side, i think we are one bowler light to take 20 wickets consistantly. Our seamers charged in hard gave it their all but were knackered, even after williamson and martin lightened the load a little. How we get a fourth seamer without dropping the spinner probably means we need to find a quality allrounder, ryder could do the job but not sure if any others are test match standard. We need to keep improving though, anderson scared a few of there bowlers maybe he's worth a shot.

  • Stephen on March 27, 2013, 9:55 GMT

    Let's not get too excited - it was a great match, and if we'd had Vettori instead of Martin we would have won. But, on the tracks in England in May/June - with a lot of lateral movement - I sadly expect that Fulton and Rutherford might struggle to give us the sort of starts we've had in this series.

    Not sure when Swann is due back but KP should be back in the side and unless they can get Taylor properly integrated we'll miss the runs he should be scoring. Wish Ryder was ready to come back in as a middle order of Williamson, Taylor, Ryder and McCullum looks quite tasty.

    Despite the performance on this tour still think England are better man for man in almost every position. But still hopeful - have just bought my ticket for Day four at Lords - a month ago I wouldn't have bothered as I wouldn't have expected to see any play!

  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    bad luck kiwi all the series.Not good play all around cricket. Miss Shan Bond in this Series.Kiwi need Shan Bond and Vettori bowler.

  • ian on March 27, 2013, 9:35 GMT

    Great performances by Black Caps. Skipper McCullum wearing a wide smile. His captaincy has been outstanding.

    Let's hope the Administration back this group of players through this decade.

    Got tickets already for 2 county warm up games & Test/One Dayers. Can't wait.

  • Alan on March 27, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    @GeoffreysMother - I would love more of our players to play county cricket. One of the best ways for them to develope their game in my opinion. Not sure if it's that the counties don't want our players or if they don't want to play there, but I wish more played in England. Would make it of more interest to me too!