Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: McCullum's keeping duties a one-off

Brendon McCullum's decision to answer the New Zealand team's wicketkeeping SOS is his first test behind the stumps since playing Australia in March 2010.

Opposition batsmen (and the television audience) will get used to his catchphrase "C'mon lads'', booming through the Headingley stump microphones as he leads New Zealand in search of their first win at the venue in 30 years. The 1983 victory was New Zealand's first in England.

It's a struggle to find anyone more suitable, and less prone to injury. McCullum is playing his 77th consecutive test since debuting in March 2004 against South Africa. The first 51 were as a wicketkeeper. The next best New Zealander is Stephen Fleming with 72.

A continuation of limited overs duties mean McCullum regularly practises the art.

Extending into a test will be a daunting prospect for his gluteal muscles, not to mention his back and knees.

Tom Latham was an option - he kept against Derbyshire - but it is logical to call on experience to replace the injured BJ Watling in such an important match.
McCullum took little convincing.

"It was the right thing for the team,'' he said. "'It is a one-off situation and I've said I'd take those challenges if need be. It's disappointing for BJ because he's been developing brilliantly.''

McCullum said his body should survive.

"Ask me in five days. I've got a job to focus on. It's definitely not long term because my body can't handle those demands.''

When Watling left for treatment to his knee at Lord's, McCullum's cameo was so ad hoc he didn't have spare pads so went with padless legs.

"BJ's a bit shorter than me so his pads didn't quite cover my knees. It was circumstantial, I just couldn't find any pads that fitted until the next day when a sponsor sorted me out.

"I knew if BJ was injured mid-test then I'd have to take over but you don't anticipate those things."

Scoreboards which read 68 all out are hard to anticipate, too. McCullum said it's been a delicate balancing act overcoming the first test shock.

"You can't sweep it under the carpet but you've also got to acknowledge where it sits in the overall progression of your team. I feel as if we've made significant gains as a batting group. The other day was a blemish.

"Guys are looking at how the England bowlers will attack them but there's no blanket rule as to how they're going to be confronted. Some know their footwork is lacking, others have their hands too far from their body. Is it a pressure situation or a technical deficiency? I think it is the former, which meant we were unable to use those skills."

- NZ Herald

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