A BATTING WITH BIMAL BREAKING REPORT: It’s time for the rookies to step up and shine, says Brendon McCullum

McCullum is hoping New Zealand can redeem themselves by winning the ODI series

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum has called on all the rookies in the team to step up and show their worth throughout the ODI series against South Africa.

New Zealand were not at full strength when leaving to tour South Africa since former skipper Ross Taylor made himself unavailable after a dispute with head coach Mike Hesson and New Zealand Cricket (NZC).

With Taylor out of the squad, New Zealand were torn apart by the Proteas during the Test series and they will now be looking for redemption in the ODI series.

“There’s obviously been some distractions gone on back home but we know there is a monumental task in front of us,” McCullum said. “To take it on without some of our better players is disappointing but that’s what we’ve got to do.

“A New Zealand team with Ross Taylor involved is a lot stronger.”

While McCullum has already stated that he feels for Taylor, he added that the team would be doing a lot better once he decides to return.

Besides Taylor, New Zealand are also missing veteran all-rounder Daniel Vettori, who has been out of action since the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20, where he sustained an Achilles injury, from which he has still not fully recovered from.

Having gone into the series against South Africa with almost a whole new set of players, McCullum put on a brave face and stated that it would be a good taste for them of what to expect at the international level.

“We’ve got a number of big losses throughout our team at the moment but it is one thing to long for those guys to be present but it’s another to get on with dealing with the resources you’ve got,” McCullum added. “We’re going to find out a lot about the new guys in the next little while and they are going to be exposed to some pretty extreme circumstances so for the development of the squad and for those guys, it’s a really exciting time.

“From a leadership point of view, we’ve got to find a way to use the resources we do have, rather than focus on what we don’t have.”

McCullum also expressed excitement about the new breed of fast bowlers New Zealand seem to be producing, stating that while they may not be as fast as “the Dale Steyn or Morne Morkels”, they still possess the ability to trouble the South African batsmen.

“We’ve got some guys with a bit of pace,” McCullum said. “They haven’t got the records of the Dale Steyns or Morne Morkels but they’ve got some really good skills and hopefully we will see those skills unfold.”

However, McCullum noted that New Zealand will be in for a tough challenge in the ODI series, given South Africa’s form across all three formats of the game.

“We know South Africa are going to be uncompromising, very fit, strong and disciplined,” McCullum added. “We know they are an extremely well-skilled team.

“South Africa have got a form advantage over us but we’re excited about the opportunity to play them. If we put them under pressure and get some of their inexperienced guys to have to deal with that pressure then maybe we will able to learn a bit about ourselves and hopefully come out on top.”

Despite everything that has happened, McCullum believes that his side will always show heart and passion no matter if they win or lose since they are representing their country.

“We are a very proud, passionate sporting nation,” McCullum said. “Cricket is the No.2 sport in the country, it’s our summer game and we have always had a lot of support and we hope to continue to do so. We want to make sure we raise our standing in world cricket.”

New Zealand have struggled as of late in all three formats and McCullum has called on his team-mates to ensure that they stay consistent throughout the ODI series.

“Historically we’ve performed a lot better when we’ve gone in as underdogs,” McCullum said. “We want to try and continually improve our performance, not just perform at our best when we are in those situations but when we are expected to win games too.”

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