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December 6, 2005
Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand wicketkeeper, has denied New Zealand's batsmen are scared of Brett Lee's pace but says they are definitely "anxious". Finding a way to counter Lee's opening bursts in the mid-150kph range are crucial if the home side is to stay alive in the Chappell-Hadlee Series at Wellington on Wednesday after they were blown away in the first match.
"I'm sure people are anxious facing him because he bowls at the speed of light," McCullum said in the New Zealand Herald. "He's no different to Shane Bond, Shoaib Akhtar or Steve Harmison. The guy bowls exceptionally quick, but just because you are a little anxious about things doesn't make you a worse player. In fact a lot of players steel up and play better." It did not work in game one of the three-match series as New Zealand fell to 33 for 6.
The top-order batsmen struggled to get in line with the ball as Lee fired figures of 3 for 5 from six overs and the batsmen may try merely to see him off, a practice Australia use when facing the nagging spin of Daniel Vettori. "He's quick, Brett Lee. Let's not shirk the fact," McCullum said. "He's fast and he's also very clever so it's something we have to overcome. But from this point on it's about trying to negate the loss of early wickets. Whether that means being more attacking or more defensive I'm not sure."
Scott Styris, who was part of the initial collapse, said Lee was definitely a threat. "I guess we have to be a little bit tougher," Styris said in the Herald Sun. "We were pretty disappointed we fell over that quickly. It shouldn't really happen at that level. I didn't see anything different from what you always get when you face Brett Lee."
Before the series New Zealand management talked up the opening pairing of Lou Vincent and Nathan Astle as World Cup openers, but McCullum, who usually bats at eight or nine has asked for a boost up the order. "I've got no qualms about saying I want to do it [before the World Cup] but I've got to make sure I've done my time and that I've earned the right to do it," he said.
"I think Braces [John Bracewell] knows I'm champing at the bit but, at the end of the day, I haven't earned the right yet and the guys who are up there have. We aren't scoring runs at the moment but they're very good players and hopefully we can pick ourselves back up."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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