Cape Town - Brendon McCullum, captaining New Zealand for the first time in a Test, relishes the challenge of playing South Africa in the two-Test series which starts at Newlands, in Cape Town, on Wednesday.
“It’s a huge challenge - there’s no point ignoring that - but with that challenge comes opportunity,” McCullum said on Tuesday about the daunting prospect of facing the No 1 Test side in the world.
“We’re a fairly young side over here but we’re not making no excuses. We’ve got a great opportunity to play against a very good cricket team and that’s why we play the game.
“If we can look back after 10 days and say we managed to put them under pressure and got the results we wanted, then this could be a catalyst for long term performances for us.”
McCullum will open the batting for the Black Caps after Peter Fulton, who had recently been recalled as an opener, was returning home after injuring his knee in a warm-up game in Paarl over the weekend.
“If Martin Guptill, who is in good form, and I can establish a decent partnership upfront, we can give ourselves a really good start to this Test match.
“The captaincy is an added responsibility but first and foremost, my job is to score runs as a batsman.”
McCullum took over the captaincy after Ross Taylor was recently dismissed by the New Zealand cricket board in controversial circumstances.
His team faces a side led by the most experienced captain currently in Test cricket.
“I just want our team to be able to stand up and really perform well in this series and, if we’re able to achieve that, and I’ve been able to help them, then we’ll be able to say we’ve made some improvements,” he said.
“It’s not about me - it’s about the team - and it doesn’t really matter who is the captain. We all have a job to do and hopefully we’ll be able to perform well as I know a lot of people are hopeful that we can stand up well in this series.
“We need to hit the ground running and put South Africa under pressure early on. The first day is a big day for us and we’ll see whatever unfolds over the remaining days but our attention is all on day one right now.”