New Zealand celebrate their first series win in South Africa after the third ODI in Potchefstroom. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Brendon McCullum is bold by nature but the New Zealand
cricket captain believes the team need to stick with the
majority of the side mauled by South Africa in the recent
test series when they face up to England next month.
The side will return home buoyed by their 2-1 one-day series
win over South Africa but the scars inflicted on everyone
(players and fans) in their heavy defeats in the two-test
series will take time to heal.
They won't have much time to dwell on it as England, the No 2
test side, are due to arrive in New Zealand tomorrow night.
England take on New Zealand in three T20 and three one-day
internationals before three tests in the ANZ series. The
Black Caps have proved they are competitive in limited-overs
cricket, despite their lowly ranking, but will come under the
microscope in the test series against a side who beat India
2-1 in the test series in the sub-continent.
Former captain Ross Taylor and strike bowler Tim Southee will
come back into the side but McCullum doesn't think too many
other changes should be made.
Jesse Ryder has decided he is not ready for a return despite
a meeting with coach Mike Hesson scheduled for tomorrow.
"I think it's important for the test guys who had the
opportunity to learn from these games [against South Africa]
to be given the opportunity to implement some of the things
they have learned," McCullum said.
"There are obviously some of our key players to come back
into the fold but it would be nice to protect the core group
of that team to show we have learned from the experiences we
"We will have some of the one-day guys knocking on the door
but I think the test guys will be determined to increase
their performances as well."
Taylor, who scored four and 52 in his comeback match for
Central Districts this week, will probably replace Colin
Munro and Southee is likely to come in for Neil Wagner from
the side beaten by an innings and 193 runs in the second
Spinner Jeetan Patel is also vulnerable and, with Daniel
Vettori still injured, could be replaced by Bruce Martin, who
toured South Africa but collected the unflattering figures of
3-230 in his last outing for Auckland. Leg-spinner Todd
Astle, who toured Sri Lanka last year, is another option but
seems to have fallen out of favour.
The only other change could see McCullum drop down the
batting order to No 5 in place of Daniel Flynn, who could
swap with McCullum to open alongside the out-of-sorts Martin
Guptill. Flynn scored 166 opening for Northern Districts
against Auckland on Friday and has either been told to open
in Plunket Shield cricket or taken it upon himself to shift
up the order.
McCullum has had a lean time opening recently - he had a
disappointing tour of South Africa all-round with only one
score over 50 in 10 innings against the Proteas - and hasn't
scored a test century since his 225 against India in
Hyderabad in November 2011. That tour signalled his shift to
opening - he's had two series since at either No3 or No4 -
and he's made noises about a move back down the order.
McCullum has scored 947 runs as an opener at an average of
35.07, which is slightly inferior to his overall average of
35.12, but that number drops to 27.77 without his double ton
against India. He has also averaged only 25.67 in his last 12
test innings with two half centuries.
"I want to improve my numbers, my output as a batsman as well
as the captaincy and make sure I am really contributing
strongly as a leader but also a batsman in this team,"
McCullum said on the eve of the final one-dayer.
- Michael Brown