Friday, December 15, 2017

New Zealand focus on positives for 3rd Test


Mark Fraser

Despite losing the second Test against West Indies by ten wickets, New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum insisted that there were a lot of positives his players could take away from the game and is confident they can turn things around to win the final Test in Barbados starting Thursday.

He said his team played "pretty good" for the majority of the game and said "that first day when we lost seven for 60, that put us behind the game and allowed West Indies back into the series.

"We've been going pretty well in Test cricket in the last 12 to 18 months and our formula has become pretty familiar to us, and some guys are always going to miss out and some guys are always going to get runs," said McCullum.

"We've just got to make sure that we're still trying to do the right things and keep trying to execute our gameplan. If we do that, and we have a little bit of luck as well going our way in Barbados. I'm confident we can turn this performance around and again finish with a strong performance," he added.

The New Zealand skipper also praised his team's work ethic in the face of a daunting West Indies first innings total when their batsmen scored two centuries and two half centuries as they posted 460.

"I thought with the ball, and once they got 400, the application and intensity with which our seamers bowled, particularly, was outstanding, something we can be really proud of and any other day they could have easily knocked the top off the West Indies batting order," said the New Zealand skipper.

He was also proud of how his team batted in their second innings. He insisted that they needed to bat well once in the match and was happy with the effort the middle and lower order put in to take the game into the fifth day which was partly affected by rain.

The visitors started their second innings with a 239-run deficit and frustrated the Windies for 152.2 overs with BJ Watling batting for more than six hours for an unbeaten 66.

He and Mark Craig (67) batted for more than 43 overs to give New Zealand a lead late on the fourth day.

McCullum said it was not the first time they were up against a huge deficit in a Test match and praised the response of his players, particularly Watling who he said is fast becoming a good leader in the youthful New Zealand camp.

"BJ is fast becoming my favourite cricketer, actually. His strength of character and his fighting qualities...the guy never complains, gets on with the job, goes out there and keeps for a hundred-and-something overs and goes out and bats for seven hours trying to save a Test match for his country and it's not the first time he's done it.

"He's done it on numerous occasions now and he's certainly a guy who's becoming a strong leader within the group as well.

“He's doing that through his actions and leading by example and that's a really good sign because we're still a young team, so we need as many leaders within the group as possible," McCullum added.