Can Kiwis salvage series in McCullum’s swansong?

By AFP
Published: February 18, 2016
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McCullum has been an integral part of New Zealand’s recent upsurge and has featured for the Black Caps in 100 Tests so far, making 6,283 runs. PHOTO: AFP

McCullum has been an integral part of New Zealand’s recent upsurge and has featured for the Black Caps in 100 Tests so far, making 6,283 runs. PHOTO: AFP

CHRISTCHURCH: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum pads up for his final Test on Saturday in Christchurch, with Australia determined to ruin his farewell party as they eye world domination.

If Australia sweep the two-Test series, which they already lead 1-0, they will hurdle India to be the top-ranked Test side in the world, which is part of their master plan to head all formats of the game.

They are already number one in ODIs and have a chance to lift their T20I ranking from eighth at the World T20 in India next month.

McCullum falls as Voges puts Australia in control

“We are going to be doing our best to make sure we spoil his last game,” Australia captain Steve Smith warned ahead of the second Test which will be McCullum’s international swansong. “But he has been a terrific player and a great servant of New Zealand cricket for a long time.”

Despite the groundsman at Hagley Oval saying it was not his job to produce grassy, seaming wickets just because that’s what New Zealand wanted, the pitch had a considerable green hue when both sides looked at it on Thursday.

NZvAUS: Voges saved by no-ball drama in first Test

It adds importance to winning the toss, as Australia found at the first Test in Wellington when they rolled New Zealand for 183 inside two sessions on the first day and went on to win by an innings and 52 runs.

Calling the toss correctly is not McCullum’s forte — he has won just three of the past 11 — but in case his luck turns New Zealand have publicly called for a green top.

McCullum wants series win to go with ‘sweaty cap’ memory

Coach Mike Hesson said he wanted his spearhead bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult to have a crack at the Australian batsmen in swinging and seaming conditions and Boult described McCullum’s 101st and last Test as “pretty sad” for the New Zealand team.

“Everyone has played with him for that long and he’s good mates with everyone in the team. He’s changed the game… he’s going to be sorely missed,” said Boult.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th,  2016.

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