West Indies v New Zealand, 1st Test, Kingston, 4th day June 11, 2014

'Nigh on the perfect Test' - McCullum

ESPNcricinfo staff

Play 06:11
Winning the toss was crucial - McCullum

New Zealand's captain Brendon McCullum has described debutant Mark Craig's work in the Sabina Park Test as "brilliant" and said that in winning inside four days, his team played almost the perfect Test. The 186-run victory was New Zealand's first in the Caribbean since the 2002 Barbados Test, and it was set up by their first 500-plus total away from home in more than eight years.

McCullum said he was particularly pleased with the way his men absorbed the pressure that built at times from the West Indians, including on the second morning, when they stumbled to 279 for 5 with the fall of McCullum's wicket. Jimmy Neesham's century and BJ Watling's 89 ensured a hefty first-innings total of 508 for 7, and in turning conditions that gave Craig and Ish Sodhi plenty to work with.

"Nigh on the perfect Test for us, I think," McCullum said. "Obviously a crucial toss to win and to be able to put 500 on the board certainly allowed us to dictate the game and brought our spinners into the game as well. You can't really fault the way we played, and we managed to absorb pressure at times as well.

"If you look at that second morning, we lost three wickets early in that session and then to get that partnership between Neesham and Watling, to be able to get us out of a sticky situation and then really ram home the advantage to be able to post a score in excess of 500, which in these conditions is always going to allow you to be on the front foot.

"It certainly didn't feel easy throughout the Test, whilst the scoreline may suggest it was. They presented us with some tough challenges. I thought their new-ball pair bowled exceptionally well. We had to play well to overcome that. I thought their spinners asked a lot of questions as well. For us to play away from home in spinning conditions against guys who are bowling well ... is a really good sign for us."

Although the spinners had a big total behind them, McCullum said he was still impressed by the way Craig and Sodhi, as well as Tim Southee in unhelpful conditions, stuck at their task and prevented any serious fightback from the West Indies batsmen. Craig finished with match figures of 8 for 188 and joined Stephen Fleming and Mathew Sinclair as the only New Zealand players to be named Man of the Match on Test debut.

"He was brilliant. I thought he went about his work and never was fazed at any stage," McCullum said of Craig. "The conditions were helpful but you've still got to be able to apply pressure over a long period of time to be able to then get the rewards later on with those sorts of conditions. For his first Test match, to be able to come in and settle into the group as quick as what he has is both a sign of strong environment and also a sign of Mark's character.

"It's a little bit different from our normal game plan, to have two spinners operating and base your last innings around that form of attack, so it was pleasing that both those guys, young and inexperienced, were able to succeed in these conditions and ultimately bowl us to a Test win."

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  • Dummy on June 14, 2014, 6:07 GMT

    W I Second test team: 1. Gayle 2. Brathwaite 3. Bravo Jr 4. Bravo Sr (Edwards if injured) 5. Chanderpaul 6. Samuels 7. Ramdin 8. Taylor 9. Holder 10. Narine 11. Roach

    Wishful second test team:

    1. Simmons 2. Brathwaite 3. Bravo Jr 4. Bravo Sr 5. Chanderpaul 6. Pollard 7. Ramdin 8. Taylor 9. Roach 10. Narine 11. Edwards

  • Ali on June 14, 2014, 1:25 GMT

    NZ supports. Cheers to you guys on a good performance...

    But don't get too ahead of yourselves ... NZ did not play well enough to beat a FULL STRENGTH WI team !

    The man of the match award should be shared between the 3 WI selectors ... Those three guys were New Zealand 's MVP in this game...

    KirK Edwards is in Horrible for, Bravo is in Horrible form and Samuels is in horrible form.

    Shane Shillingford and Suliman Benn happen to be good friends with the coach and selectors !

  • Android on June 13, 2014, 16:04 GMT

    i like to see bm opening the batting nz should bm opening the batting he is a not a middle order player so fulton will replace bm at opening the batting and anderson comes in for 2nd test

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2014, 16:02 GMT

    Ronchi for Fulton, Rutherford is a one test wonder

  • Krish on June 13, 2014, 13:46 GMT

    It might make sense to push Powell down to the middle order and have Braithwaite-who is someone who tries to put a value to his wicket- open with Gayle.Either Samuels or Edwards has to be replaced.

  • Jonathan on June 13, 2014, 9:24 GMT

    @anver777: The entire NZ team? Can't say I quite agree. Nick Gentle has the right idea: Fulton has had more than enough chances and needs to go. Rutherford, or even C. Anderson (or indeed most other batsmen I could care to name), are better choices to open.

    The rest of the team did a spanking job. As a Pom who's only got into the game recently, NZ have been my second-favourite side - always seemed to have a lot of players of talent, just prone to collapses and not always fitting together (much like England!). This may be against a weak test team, but the WI still have an impressive attack (and Chanderpaul), and NZ did well against them in their own back yard. Onwards and upwards!

  • Chris on June 13, 2014, 9:20 GMT

    Good luck to Craig in his test career, but with the technique displayed by some of the WI batters James Tredwell would have had a field day, and he can't get into the Kent team

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    Sunil Nairine could have made a huge difference on this pitch.

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2014, 5:41 GMT

    well the toughest decisions having to be made by NZ these last 12 tests or so is whether we should enforce the follow-on. Its a great place to be, looking forward to playing some strong teams at home and maintaining and building a record similar to the hadlee era of never losing a series at home. Great Stuff Boys!!

  • Anver on June 13, 2014, 4:28 GMT

    Credit to entire NZ team, they played excellent Test cricket to secure a 1-0 lead in the series !!!! Debutante Mark Craig has made a good start to his test career !!!!!

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