Despite being whitewashed 0-3 in the recently concluded Test series, former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum said the Kiwis can take a lot of positives from the ongoing India tour.
McCullum, who played 101 Tests for New Zealand and led the side to the final of the 2015 World Cup, reckoned that opening batsman Tom Latham has emerged as one of the finds of the tour apart from the way stumper Luke Ronchi had performed in the Tests. He also hailed the young spinners in the side.
“I think Latham’s batting has been a huge positive, Ronchi in Test cricket and the bowling group stuck to their task really well too. Again these are early stages for spinners Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner but I think they performed really well as well,” McCullum told reporters in a media interaction.
“I think we are brought up on conditions which are very much different from what we get here, it’s a matter of time to adapt to the conditions as soon as possible. I think Latham was outstanding throughout the tour in a really tough (opening) position and Kane Williamson before he got sick made contributions in the first game. A lot of runs are required from him,” he added.
McCullum, who had a prolific record in India during his international days, conceded that it is very difficult for any touring side to beat the No.1 Test side at home.
“India is the No.1 Test team in the world and it’s not easy to come here and compete against them. Sometimes you get beaten in games because the opposition plays well.”
“Its always a tough place to tour India, its incredibly difficult where the conditions are so different to what we have back home. I think the guys will take a lot of learnings from this tour and really good experiences and I am sure in time we will see the benefit of how important this tour has been for them. Hopefully we can finish with a couple of wins in the last two games,” he said.
“In the end, you are not going to come here and have instant success across the board but only if you take the lessons from it you can continue to develop as a team. When you leave these shores with some good learning, that’s what is important for a young team,” he added.
Kane Williamson a ‘world class’ player
The 35-year-old, who recently lashed out against his predecessor Ross Taylor’s “uninspiring captaincy” in his autobiography “Declared”, spoke highly of his successor Williamson as a world class player.
“I think Kane is going to be an incredible leader. At a young age of 26, he is already very matured, he’s a world class player and I think the team is just finding itself in tough circumstances and we shouldn’t judge them too harshly as its a tough place to come.”
“I am sure over the coming months his leadership will certainly stand up when they play in home conditions,” he said.
Hailing Indian Test skipper Virat Kohli as one of the top contemporary batsmen, McCullum said, “Virat is definitely among the top line of players for a number of years now. He has done well in both Tests and ODIs but also had a fantastic IPL season as well. His ability to be consistent in all formats is a mark of how world class he is.”
McCullum also backed India’s limited overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to come higher in the batting order in the ongoing ODI series.
Dhoni can have more impact at No.4
Coming in at No.4 in the third match at Mohali, Dhoni not only scored 80 runs but shared a 151-run stand with Kohli to give India an emphatic seven-wicket win.
“I am definitely not surprised for him batting up the order, Dhoni is a terrific leader and now he doesn’t play Test cricket.”
“His focus is squarely on the limited overs games which means he can have more impact in games which is why I think he has pushed himself up the order and he has delivered and that’s what all world class players do,” the Kiwi said.
McCullum, who bid goodbye to international cricket in February this year, however, feels he has three-four years left in competitive cricket and is looking forward to playing the Indian Premier League (IPL) next season.
“Yes it is definitely one of the challenges but if you stay physically fit and strong and motivated then your preparations aren’t affected. I am still very much motivated, I am 35 years and I still think I have another 3-4 years of competitive cricket left in me,” McCullum, who plays for Rajkot franchise in the IPL, said.