New Zealand v Zimbabwe, 3rd ODI, Napier February 9, 2012

Our attitude is outstanding - McCullum


New Zealand completed an emphatic whitewash of Zimbabwe, winning each of the three ODIs by an increasing margin - 90 to 202 runs - to highlight the gulf between the teams. They achieved that dominant result without their regular captain Ross Taylor, whose calf injury kept him out of the series, and with four debutants rotating into the squad.

From an all-round perspective, New Zealand achieved everything they could have. The openers put on century stands, the middle-order batsmen accelerated when they were given the platform to and the bowlers had Zimbabwe's batsmen in a tangle, be it through seam or spin. The only thing New Zealand did not do was chase a total, but that was only because they were never in the position to. Other than that, all boxes were ticked, leaving them as prepared as they can be for the series against South Africa.

"We've played very good cricket so far," Brendon McCullum, the stand-in captain, said. "We've gone up a notch every game in this series. We have been able to raise the tempo of our game and execute better and better in each game, and that was including chopping and changing of the team."

There's a new look and feel to this New Zealand one-day outfit. It's stronger but more flexible, and built on experience but decorated with youth. The successful introductions of Andrew Ellis, Tom Latham, Tarun Nethula and Michael Bates have given New Zealand depth, something they have long searched for.

"They bring enthusiasm and they also bring domestic experience," McCullum said, stressing the importance of playing new players in roles they are used to. "As long as we play them in positions they are familiar with, then they've got some experience to call upon. We've seen in the past, players have come in to international cricket and almost play a different role to what they got picked for, so that was one of the big things we discussed. The guys that would get opportunities for the first time in this series were still able to play in familiar positions so we're pleased with their contributions."

McCullum was equally impressed by the way some of the old hands lifted their games. "Kyle Mills has led the bowling attack, Jacob Oram has unlocked his batting again and played a pretty key role, and Martin Guptill has been phenomenal."

It leaves New Zealand with a problem most teams like to have: 14 players who can fill 11 spots. "The selection issues have become a little bit different from the past," McCullum said. "Then, we've been a little bit barren, now we've got a wider squad that's capable of stepping up."

Ahead of what's being billed as the "contest of the summer" against South Africa, New Zealand have the luxury of choice. McCullum said they will probably stick to what has worked in the past first, before calling on their young players when necessary. "The guys who have been here and done it time and time again will get opportunities first," he said. "But they know they will have some people not too far over their shoulders."

McCullum hopes the right blend of old and new will provide the recipe for continued success and will enable New Zealand to carry on a strong summer. "We've had three outstanding performances here. We've seen some guys get into really good form. The team is travelling really well. The attitude is outstanding. We expect to up for the fight when South Africa arrive."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Beau on February 10, 2012, 6:22 GMT

    @Troy - Get your eyes checked, dude. Ben said they 'almost' beat us. And as for the other negative commenters - Anyone else remember Bangladesh whitewashing us not too long ago? Bit of a step up from there, no? Of course we're all nervous about SA - I bet the players are too. SA aren't gonna serve up full tosses, drop catches or collapse every time they bat (well... maybe they'll collapse once or twice), but NZ look well-balanced and confident. Can't wait for the SA series!

  • rienzie on February 10, 2012, 3:37 GMT

    John Wright is a great coach, and while this has not been the best opposition to say the least, but after squaring the seires vs a resurgant Australian side away, and romping home with this series, signs are very good. they musnt get carried away but I like what I am seeing and they are on the way up.

  • Dummy4 on February 10, 2012, 2:43 GMT

    At Ben.. Get your facts right dude. Zim did not beat us in a test, And as for the odi they beat us in it was a dead rubber.

  • hayden on February 10, 2012, 0:48 GMT

    Remind me again who has beaten South Africa in the last 3 World Cups? Some of these comments really? What are they supposed to do? If they don't think & speak with confidence they won't be confident & we will se some of the poor performances they've had plaguued them over the last couple of years. Please give New Zealand & Zimbabwe a break. Zimbabwe beat Bangledesh in a test recently & have beaten India & Pakistan before, countries that I would assume they have the two largest player bases in the world compared to Zimbabwe that have the smallest. They've also beaten every ODI team.

  • Dummy4 on February 9, 2012, 22:31 GMT

    According to you guys in the comments there's no point even playing Zimbabwe - guess they may as well give up cricket now since they'll have no opposition. Your same logic can be applied to all associate teams, no more internationals for ireland or the netherlands either I guess. There's absolutely no point in playing if we're not allowed to be happy with the win. Go get over yourselves

  • Dummy4 on February 9, 2012, 21:36 GMT

    The kiwi players have to be excited, winning cricket is a habit, and they've won 5 games in a row. From playing cricket myself, I know that a win boosts confidence and increases the skill level by the players, no matter what the opposition. Plus, it would be extremely disrespectful to write off Zimbabwe the way some on this forum have. Furthermore, Zimbabwe recently chased down 320 odd against us and almost beat us in a test just a few months ago. Short memory everyone?

  • Dummy4 on February 9, 2012, 20:34 GMT

    Its Zimbabwe guys. I am trying to take nothing away from the Zimbabwe team but in the a last decade haven't done anything really special warranting them to be even in the same class as New Zealand or any other team. Its good to win against them because if you loose well that would be a little embarrassing. I know everyone is going to keep saying it. Lets see what happens with South Africa. Now they know if they beat you with a series whitewash they will become world number one. So with that in mind, if you do beat them at all I will then tilt my had to you and say well done. You finally have a team that is worthy.

  • Mark on February 9, 2012, 20:09 GMT

    The issue for NZ has always been the gulf in quality between international opposition and domestic opposition. Zimbabwe are playing at a level that is barely up to domestic quality. South Africa on the other hand are at the pinnacle of international quality. The signs are good for NZ with form, well executed plans and competition in the squad, but I fear the gulf in class between Zim and Saffers has produced the familiar false confidence that will culminate in a nasty shock when Dale Steyn first runs in to bowl...

  • Hritam on February 9, 2012, 16:48 GMT

    A brilliant win for New Zealand.

  • Khiladi on February 9, 2012, 14:56 GMT

    I am reading NZ players comments throughout the series and just wonder why they are extremely happy , they are over excited, what they shouldn't be these are just warm up matches as Zimbabwe has been never a threatening side since they rebuild ed their new team. they are just like Kenya, Canada.. NZ is improving.. I am happy for that and waiting to see a strong NZ team But every comment by them is needless in this series, they are over excited If they will beat SA in this manner then these comments would look good.

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