Brendon McCullum plays a shot on day three of the second
test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth. REUTERS/Rogan
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum insisted the end of
the second test against South Africa was not the darkest day of
his international career.
However it's hard to think of one worse, as New Zealand's
series came to a predictable and thumping 2-0 series defeat
against the world's best team.
Having been dismissed for 211, 35 minutes before lunch on the
fourth day at St George's Park, they lost by an innings and
193 runs - to follow the innings and 27 runs at Cape Town a
"No, I wouldn't go to that extreme," McCullum, in his first
series as test captain, said.
"Obviously it's incredibly disappointing and hurts a lot to
suffer a 2-0 loss and in the fashion we have.
"But the acknowledgement of the different class between the
teams is important for perspective. Yes we weren't good
enough and didn't front up when we needed to, but we were
also placed under tremendous pressure by a team at the very
top of their game, and that should provide some learning
opportunities for us.
'Yes, it should hurt but we've got a pretty good blueprint of
how the best team in the world goes about its cricket."
Twelve sessions were unrequired over the two tests for South
Africa to take their run of successive series wins to five -
home to Sri Lanka, away to New Zealand, England and Australia
and now this.
In that time they've lost just one test, against the Sri
Lankans in Durban in the Boxing Day test last year.
McCullum knows there has been, and will continue to be strong
criticism of New Zealand's performances in the tests. His
team "certainly won't shy away from that", he added.
"But also a lot of people will support us and understand that
this team, in its life cycle, is greatly different from the
current South African team and hope to see some improvement
in what is going to be a big series coming up (home to
South African captain Graeme Smith believed the final session
on day two, when his team reduced New Zealand to 47 for six
in reply to the hosts' 525 for eight declared, decided the
"We really got things together and once you create that
intensity and pressure, the snowball effect (comes in). It
rubs off and that evening was where the game opened up for
us," he said.
His team had bowled expertly in the first innings of both
tests, rolling New Zealand for 45 in 19.2 overs on the
opening morning of the series at Cape Town and then 121 in
"In both first innings we bowled really well and were able to
create a lot."
Smith believed the series outcome was a fair reflection of
"If you play two tests and win both of them by an innings,
then that's fair to say. I'd like to think we outplayed them
comprehensively in the series.
"We've been really professional, bar one or two catches in
Cape Town. We've played a high standard of test cricket,"
New Zealand began the day at 157 for four, with both Dean
Brownlie and BJ Watling set and in their 40s.
Once Brownlie departed at 53 the end came swiftly.
The last five wickets fell for just eight runs in the space
of 30 balls from Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
World No 1 Steyn, in particular, was unplayable late in the
innings, his delivery to remove the doughty Watling being a
He finished with overall figures of eight for 65 to win the
man of the match award.
"Having guys that keep coming all day and have the ability to
create pressure and keep bowling with intensity and pace and
get the ball to move is crucial," Smith said.
''When things are going well and bowlers are bowling quick
then it's great. It's a relentless thing that people can back
each other up."
McCullum, who made 82 runs in his four innings at the top of
the order, believed it to be the toughest batting experience
''I've never been challenged like that at the crease
consistently from a group of bowlers. It was as hard as you
get in international cricket. They just give you no scoring
opportunities," he said.
Brownlie topped the New Zealand batting averages with 43;
Watling was one run lower. Forget the rest.
McCullum said there will have to be ''nipping and tucking"
before the ANZ international series against England. However
he felt the core of the team should be retained to implement
what they learnt in the two tests.
All positions would be up for discussion.
There promises to be some hard talk, with former captain Ross
Taylor tipped to return, issues at the top of the order - and
McCullum was non-committal on whether he would stay opening -
and the mix of the middle group on the table.
For now, New Zealand must regroup smartly for the three-game
ODI series, starting in Paarl on Saturday night (NZT).
- David Leggat