New Zealand's Brendon McCullum hits out on his way to 74
off 38 balls. REUTERS/Simon Watts
Brendon McCullum's reign as New Zealand captain has been
a fraught business so far, but mark down last night's 55-run
win over England as his best night in the job.
The skipper ensured New Zealand would be giving England a
sizeable challenge with a rollicking 74 off 38 balls, then
oversaw a committed, penetrative bowling display as New
Zealand squared the twenty/20 series at Seddon Park.
The decider is at Wellington's Westpac Stadium on Friday
Having carried his team to 192 for six, McCullum then found
his seamers, Mitchell McClenaghan and Ian Butler, bang on the
With his third and fourth deliveries, left-armer McClenaghan
removed Alex Hales with a beauty, then the dangerous Luke
Butler, back after a two-year absence, took a wicket with his
third ball, added a second, and walked away with the terrific
figures of two for nine off his four overs.
England was way behind the comparative rate from early on
and, at 47 for five in 10.1 overs, there was no way back. The
visting side was eventually dismissed for 137.
There was a late flourish in vain from in-form wicketkeeper
Jos Buttler, 54 off 30 balls, featuring scoop shots and
rockets blasted back down the ground, before James Franklin
cleaned up the tail.
The bowlers were backed up by urgent fielding. A dropped
catch by Hamish Rutherford at deep square leg and McCullum's
missing a stumping off brother Nathan were the only
For McCullum it was a night he should savour.
New Zealand won its one-day international series in South
Africa 2-1, after being squashed in the two tests, but was
well beaten at Eden Park in the international series opener
last Saturday and needed this to shake off nagging fears of a
grim few weeks to come.
New Zealand's innings, its second-highest on Seddon Park
after the 202 for five against Zimbabwe a year ago, was built
on an opening stand of 75 in 8.2 overs between Martin Guptill
The Otago lefthander's timing was not quite right - a
top-edged six off Stuart Broad could have gone anywhere,
including over the wicketkeeper's head for six, which it did.
Still 58 runs off 38 balls in his first two innings for his
country bodes well.
Guptill looked good before slapping spinner James Tredwell to
deep square leg and thereafter the innings was down to
He had just a single off his first seven balls, then got
going with a booming six into the crowd at long on and was
Blockbusting drives and ferocious pull shots kept him sailing
along, and five of the innings' 10 sixes were his.
He did not get much support - Ross Taylor holed out just
inside the midwicket boundary for the second consecutive
innings - but McCullum's first T20 half-century in 10 innings
New Zealand seemed to have lost its way when it managed just
36 in a five-over spell from the 13th over but McCullum's
pyrotechnics, to match the flame-throwers at one end of the
ground, meant 38 came off the final two overs. Auckland coach
Paul Strang (42) will step aside at the end of this season.
The former Zimbabwe legspinner has been in charge for the
past four seasons, during which Auckland has twice contested
the Champions League as New Zealand's T20 champion, and also
collected a national one-day title.
He was offered the chance to roll his contract over for one
more year but Strang's decision is based around a belief it
is time for a change and the desire to look at new