Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Following New Zealand’s 186-run victory over the West Indies in the first Test in Jamaica, captain Brendon McCullum has described his side’s performance as “perfect”.
New Zealand’s win was their first in the Caribbean since 2002, and it was also the first time in more than eight years that they scored over 500 runs in a Test innings.
“Nigh on the perfect Test for us, I think,” McCullum said. “Obviously a crucial toss to win and to be able to put 500 on the board certainly allowed us to dictate the game and brought our spinners into the game as well. You can’t really fault the way we played, and we managed to absorb pressure at times as well.
“If you look at that second morning, we lost three wickets early in that session and then to get that partnership between Neesham and Watling, to be able to get us out of a sticky situation and then really ram home the advantage to be able to post a score in excess of 500, which in these conditions is always going to allow you to be on the front foot.
“It certainly didn’t feel easy throughout the Test, whilst the scoreline may suggest it was. They presented us with some tough challenges. I thought their new-ball pair bowled exceptionally well. We had to play well to overcome that. I thought their spinners asked a lot of questions as well. For us to play away from home in spinning conditions against guys who are bowling well…is a really good sign for us.”
McCullum also lauded off-spinner Mark Craig, who took eight wickets in the match, which is the most by any New Zealand player on debut.
“He was brilliant. I thought he went about his work and never was fazed at any stage,” McCullum said. “The conditions were helpful but you’ve still got to be able to apply pressure over a long period of time to be able to then get the rewards later on with those sorts of conditions. For his first Test match, to be able to come in and settle into the group as quick as what he has is both a sign of strong environment and also a sign of Mark’s character.
“It’s a little bit different from our normal game plan, to have two spinners operating and base your last innings around that form of attack, so it was pleasing that both those guys, young and inexperienced, were able to succeed in these conditions and ultimately bowl us to a Test win.”