Published — Thursday 16 May 2013
Last update 16 May 2013 2:15 am
LONDON: The chance to beat a desperate England is mouthwatering to New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum.
England has been ordered to atone for the drawn series in New Zealand in March or face consequences after the two-Test return leg begins at Lord’s on Thursday.
McCullum said the Black Caps were ready to take England’s best shots.
“This challenge is going to be a lot harder, England will be more aware of us,” he said on Wednesday. “They’re in their own backyard. Their bowlers will be able to swing the ball a bit more than they did back home where they struggled with the Kookaburra ball. They will be a far more dangerous proposition, and their batsmen are clinical at home from recent history.
“But we’ve got guys who will be favored in these conditions as well, especially our bowling unit. We know we’re going to have to be on our game. It’s pretty mouth-watering.”
When England selector Geoff Miller named his team last week, he accused them of “going through the motions” in New Zealand, under-performing and told them to rectify the results. Captain Alastair Cook played down questions on Wednesday of any harsh words between the team and selectors.
Cook remembered they were confident and ready before the series in New Zealand, where England was fortunate to finish with three draws.
“In hindsight, it’s easy to start picking faults,” Cook said. “We looked for reasons behind closed doors and that’s where they’ll remain. But it wasn’t about a lack of attitude.”
McCullum believed England wasn’t disrespectful of the Kiwis, but rather the first day of that series set the tone, when England was bowled out for 167 by tea in Dunedin. That raised New Zealand’s confidence, he said, and ate away at England’s.
McCullum received plaudits after the series for shading Cook with his aggressive, creative moves, but the Kiwi said it was easier for him as his team was either on a par with or in front of England.
“The next challenge for me is when we find ourselves behind in a game and getting them back in the contest,” he said.
Despite being prepared to take risks, he said he preferred to think he was making “educated gambles.”
“Just because you run past the principal’s office doesn’t mean you’re not doing your homework,” McCullum said.
The damp, colder-than-usual weather in late spring could make both teams start without full-time spinners. The teams are expected to wake up on match day to sunshine that will be gone after lunch and may not come back for the rest of the match.
It means Graeme Swann, whose class and conviviality was sorely missed by England in New Zealand, might miss out after recovering from his elbow operation, while New Zealand could be without Bruce Martin, who has also had a lack of wickets to contend with.
Cook said playing without Swann was an option, while McCullum was more direct: Either Martin or a four-seamer attack including Doug Bracewell.
“This is a huge series for us to regain the consistency we showed back home,” McCullum said, “to show our fighting instincts and innovations from home, and replicate those in foreign conditions against a team that’s confident at home.”
England (from): Alastair Cook (captain), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Nick Compton, Steve Finn, Matt Prior, Joe Root, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott.
New Zealand (from): Brendon McCullum (New Zealand), Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Dean Brownlie, BJ Watling, Tim Southee, Bruce Martin, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell.