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March 10, 2013
Brendon McCullum was full of praise for his bowling attack's "phenomenal" attempts to force victory against England after chipping away during the final day to ensure the visitors were not completely safe until midway through the final session.
It took New Zealand more than an hour to break through, removing Nick Compton for 117, but a fiery eight-over spell from Neil Wagner, to claim the scalps of Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen, gave New Zealand a glimmer which flickered a little brighter shortly after tea when Steven Finn, the nightwatchman, was finally dismissed and Joe Root was run out without scoring.
"I thought even up until the last couple of overs we were a red hot crack, if we could get into those bowlers with the ball still new," McCullum said. "I think we gave it everything we possibly could. I thought the bowlers were huge today to stand up and bowl as well as they did and for as long as what they did on a pretty unresponsive pitch, which was obviously still only a day four pitch, it was a phenomenal effort.
"They will be stiff and sore tonight but they will know they were standing up trying to bowl us to a win and you know that's exactly what you want from your bowling line-up."
The quick men had a tremendous workload in the fourth innings. Wagner, who was impressive throughout the match to finish with seven wickets, sent down 43 overs which was the most by a New Zealand fast bowler in an innings since Daryl Tuffey delivered 49 against Pakistan in 2001 while Trent Boult ended with 35 and Tim Southee 36.
"Neil was huge today, 40-something overs as a quick," McCullum said. "He kept running in, bowling nine or 10-over spells at times and I thought he was phenomenal."
The other main star for New Zealand was Hamish Rutherford who made 171 on his debut to suggest that there may be a long-term option to what has been a very problematic position for the team. In the previous series, against South Africa, McCullum took the responsibility to open on his shoulders but feels his role his better suited to the middle-order.
"It's a dream debut and not just for him and everyone else who was at the ground and also in the changing room," McCullum said. "It was an amazing effort to turn up on debut and in an area where we've struggled in the past. And not just make runs but the way he made then runs.
"To have someone who scores at such a clip put us in a position in a four-day Test match where we able to try and push for a result. He was outstanding and he never changed his mood from before the Test match till after it, so that's a good sign for the future."
After a nightmare Test series in South Africa, where they never held any position of strength in either match, this contest gave McCullum the opportunity to pull the strings himself. He is only three matches into his captaincy tenure, after the difficult transition from Ross Taylor, and while he realises this was still only a draw it he believes it has given them a base to build from.
"We know the public's crying out for the Test game to improve, and we're crying out for our Test game to improve as well," he said. "This is a big step for us to look at where we were and where we are now and show ourselves and also our fans what we're capable of achieving against good teams too.
"The challenge now is to back it up for Test two and Test three and continue to put yourself in positions where you're dominating and dictating the test match. That's what we were able to do in this Test and the game's a lot easier when you're dictating rather than being dictated to."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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