Pained physically and mentally, New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum had no regrets about enforcing the follow-on against the West Indies as the first test ended in a rain-soaked draw in Dunedin.
New Zealand's bowlers toiled for nearly eight consecutive sessions, or 224 overs, on a docile University Oval pitch before the rain foiled their chase yesterday for 112 to win, with the hosts 79-4.
"Do I doubt the decision to enforce? Absolutely not, I think it was the right decision at the right time. If the rain had held we would have got the result. There are times we'd love to have the other side of the luck but that's cricket," McCullum said.
He conceded his pace attack of Trent Boult (53 overs), Tim Southee (45 overs) and Neil Wagner (43 overs) would be weary and with just three days' rest till the second test in Wellington, would need to be monitored.
McCullum insisted the forecast rain didn't catch them by surprise after they faced 30 overs in their chase. He blamed over-aggressive batting, including his own dismissal when he skied a catch, for putting them under pressure where they couldn't accelerate when the clouds rolled in before tea. The draw left McCullum winless from 10 tests as skipper, exactly a year after he took over from Ross Taylor.
"You are obviously judged by your results. When [we've] not won a test since I've taken over it's frustrating, but we did everything we could to win this test match and I believe we'd have won if it hadn't rained. We've had some lows as well, but I firmly believe we are performing pretty well in test cricket and sooner or later the wins will come." McCullum said his troublesome back injury still had to be managed, and he'd aggravated a knee problem when crashing into the advertising hoardings, but felt he'd be fit for Wellington.
Despite a loose shot in the second innings, his first innings century was a welcome boost.
"I don't think I've played under that much media or public scrutiny throughout my career. To score a hundred under pretty tough external pressure, but also internal pressure from an injury point of view, was relieving.
"Still it was very disappointing I wasn't able to be there at the end today. Sometimes you make poor decisions in clutch moments and if I [could have] that moment back I would. But, overall, it's a step in the right direction."
West Indies captain Darren Sammy, meanwhile, was positive about his own injury, a gluteal strain suffered on day two.
After a miserable test series in India where they lost 2-0, he took the draw as something of a victory, having trailed by a massive 396 on the first innings after only three days to prepare. "I bet on the third day nobody expected to be here at 6.30pm on Saturday. Credit must go to Darren Bravo, I guess he copied what Ross Taylor did and we batted around him. It is a morale boost for the guys, especially coming from India. I heard some commentator say this is the worst West Indies team coming to New Zealand. We knew it would be difficult, so we're quite happy with the result from the position we were in."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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