McCullum hails 'band of brothers'

2014-12-01 09:06
Brendon McCullum (AFP)

Controversial former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen gave a schoolboy the surprise of a lifetime, when he visited 10-year-old Ryan Belsey, whose father passed away last year, in Kent, England. There was even time for a knockabout for the cricket-mad youngster and his idol.

Sharjah - Skipper Brendon McCullum hailed New Zealand's "not so easy" series-levelling win in the third Test against Pakistan on Sunday in the wake of the tragic death of Phillip Hughes.

New Zealand thumped Pakistan by an innings and 80 runs to level the three-match series 1-1 in a Test overshadowed by Thursday's death of Australian batsman Hughes.

"It certainly wasn't easy," admitted McCullum. "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."

Both teams agreed to abandon the second day's play on Thursday after news of Hughes' death in Sydney came through.

The Australian, who would have celebrated his 26th birthday on Sunday, died two days after he was knocked unconscious by a bouncer while batting in a domestic match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

"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," said McCullum.

"It felt incredibly hard to focus on the game and still hard to talk about the game. But we will look back upon this performance in time and we will be really proud of what we have been able to achieve," said McCullum, who hit a robust 202 which helped his team post their highest-ever Test total of 690.

Pakistan were bowled out for 351 and 259.

McCullum said New Zealand have progressed well in Tests.

"I think from the low of being bowled out for 45 against South Africa, we could only go up," said McCullum of their slump in Cape Town last year.

"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."

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq was disappointed at the state of the Sharjah pitch.

"We cannot do anything about it," said Misbah.

"We asked for a turner and everybody has seen what sort of wicket this was because we wanted this Test to be decided and we asked for a turning pitch and I don't know what happened."

Meanwhile, New Zealand's veteran spinner Daniel Vettori said he didn't feel it appropriate to call time on his Test career after the death of Hughes.

The 35-year-old staged a Test comeback after an injury gap of 28 months in Sharjah.

Vettori admitted it was unlikely he would add to his record 112 caps for New Zealand - he also played one Test for an ICC World XI in 2005 - but did not officially announce it.

"I suppose the current timing, what's happened in the last few days, it doesn't feel appropriate to make a big statement, so I thought that I'd just sit back and enjoy the Test win as much as I can," said Vettori who took just two wickets in Sharjah, taking his career total to 362.

"It's been amazing to come back into the group and obviously the performance of the guys which is something that I will treasure for ever but it is tinged with sadness about Phil's passing," said Vettori.

"I think the group doesn't feel like celebrating, we tried to commemorate Phil's memory in the best way we can because a number of the guys knew him well. We saw him as one of us."

Read more on:    brendon mccullum  |  cricket

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