Building on success the Black Caps challenge

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 05:00 27/01/2013

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Cricket

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Brendon McCullum has seen countless starting points come and go during his 11 years in the New Zealand cricket team.

Rare away test victories against Australia and Sri Lanka in the past 14 months are two of the more recent ones, but they were never built upon. In fact, the national test team didn't just stagnate after those, it went into freefall.

A one-day international series win in South Africa, the first in any format for New Zealand after 60 years of playing international cricket in the Republic, represents another good starting point. Sure, South Africa were missing several frontline players, but New Zealand lacked names such as Taylor, Ryder, Vettori, and Southee.

Now, they go about building upon it, and that doesn't start with the upcoming England tour. It starts at 1.30am tomorrow morning (NZ time) in Potchefstroom.

The third and final ODI against South Africa may be a dead rubber, with the tourists up 2-0. But it shouldn't be as far as New Zealand is concerned. Far from it.

Consistency is what most New Zealand followers dream of seeing and a 3-0 series victory, with another good all-round performance tomorrow, would send a significant message back home. That perhaps greater consistency could be around the corner.

"We've had starting points before, granted, but we never really kicked on from those and that's what the next challenge will be," captain McCullum said yesterday.

"To really ensure that we actually use this opportunity, working from a position of strength, to be able to develop and become more consistent. That's when we are going to get that real love across the board from the New Zealand public.

"It is important to realise that we looked the giants in the eye and were able to come away with some success. That's a really good starting point to be able to work from.

"We certainly don't think that by winning the series everyone expects us to be the world dominating team on a consistent basis, but I think it does show we are trending in the right direction."

McCullum said it was important to celebrate success, particularly after tough times, and that's what they had done after securing the series. He is not keen to underplay the victory. "We were very pleased with what we achieved but today [Wednesday], the feeling among the group was to turn their attention toward the third game, which from a leadership point of view is a very good sign. The guys are still very determined to give everything we can to overcome a good South African team.

"If we walk away with a 3-0 victory it would be something we will all remember for the rest of our lives."

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He described the tour, his first as captain, as tough but "a great learning experience". He admitted he has felt vulnerable at times.

"When you are confronted with the best, you are given pretty harsh lessons about what you need to do to perform. We all know what we need to do to improve now."

- Fairfax Media

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