December 28, 2001

Craig McMillan looking forward to tough cricket ahead for NZ

New Zealand batsman Craig McMillan has promised Kiwi fans a couple of exciting years of big cricket.

McMillan, who scored another 70 runs today to lift his Test aggregate to 2337 runs at an average of 43.27, said the experience that has now accrued in the CLEAR Black Caps team meant that more consistent performances were being achieved.

He was especially enjoying the role he now has as a senior player and the extra responsibility that comes with that.

"Next year the cricket is going to be a lot tougher as we are meeting some good sides," he said.

New Zealand faces England at home, tours the West Indies, has to fit in a tour of Pakistan after this year's tour was postponed, a defence of the ICC KnockOut and then ends the year hosting India in a three-Test series.

McMillan admitted being disappointed when run out attempting a risky second run today but said he thought there were two runs in it, although he acknowledged a direct hit was always going to find him short of his ground.

But New Zealand were looking to score runs quickly and that had been behind his approach.

"I was pretty intent on getting a hundred today but in games like this you can get ahead of yourself.

"I felt like I was pretty much in control. It is a challenge, a different challenge from that we faced in Australia, but a good challenge in itself," he said.

He also explained a stance he employed during the latter stage of the innings when he stood much squarer in his crease. He was looking to use the sweep shot more, and it was a variation he had worked on in the nets in Perth during New Zealand's recent tour.

"I batted every day in the nets in Perth and worked on it. I will try it again too, it is just a variation. I used an open stance against Muralitharan last summer," he said.

McMillan also predicted a good effort by New Zealand in the forthcoming tri-series in Australia but added that it would be disappointing if Nathan Astle was unavailable because he had such a fantastic record.

But his absence would give someone else a chance and there had been a good take-up rate when opportunities had been provided recently in the side.