SHARJAH: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum felt despite a false start on first day to win the Sharjah Test was a commendable effort by his side.
"In terms of the wicket, 280 for three on the first day and losing the toss, I thought it would be pretty crucial. But I am proud of the way the boys bounced back under trying circumstances. We stuck together on and off the field. Obviously, it was a tough Test match for reasons we all know.
"But to bounce back the way we did by taking those seven wickets in the first session on the second day and then take the momentum into our batting and score at five an over, we were just playing with no inhibitions whatsoever. It gave us a good chance in this Test and in the end, I guess to bat as long as we did, meant that the wicket was worn by the time we came to bowl again. I thought we bowled outstandingly well today and we did very well in the Test considering we were so behind after the first day," added McCullum.
In a way McCullum himself set the tone with his uninhibited batting which led to New Zealand snatching the initiative early on. This despite the fact that he was still affected by the death of Phillip Hughes.
"It certainly wasn’t easy. It was a very tough period. We are nowhere as affected as the guys back in Australia, but at the same time, cricket is a community…it is a fraternity and we felt we lost one of our own even if he is from a different country. It hit the guys pretty hard and we tried to stay as close as we could as a group. We tried to spend a lot of time together and tried to talk through stuff and share one another’s thoughts and get our arms around one another," said McCullum.
Despite all the records being broken by New Zealand in the Sharjah Test, McCullum felt something was missing.
"It was a pretty empty feeling out there. We were just trying to be as respectful as we possibly could, whilst knowing that we had a job to do of playing cricket. It’s always a difficult balance," revealed McCullum.
The series McCullum felt had taight a few lessons to New Zealand as well. He believed the side can build from here to become a good Test side.
"We were completely outplayed in the first Test. It showed some signs of where we needed to improve and that is the most pleasing aspect from a team’s point of view that were able to make those adjustments pretty quickly. We did much better in the second Test match and then to back it up here. We have got another month before our next Test match and we are playing in home conditions. So, we will soon be able to implement the lessons we learnt while playing away from home as well," reckoned McCullum.
The New Zealand skipper also said that the improvement by his side in the last year has been down to a change in approach by the squad.
"I think from the low of being bowled out for 45 against South Africa, we could only go up. What it allowed us to do was strip things right back to what was important for us, how we wanted to be known as a team, how the country wanted us to play and the traits they wanted to see in those representing New Zealand – like a team that never gives up, and if they do get beaten, it is very hard to beat them," revealed McCullum about the new approach.