Apart from feeling stiff and sore, New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum came through his return to action at Eden Park yesterday and is expected to be fit and ready for the opening match against Australia on Wednesday.

The sight of McCullum charging towards the boundary hoardings against Pakistan yesterday - near mimicking the injury to his back on December 28 against Sri Lanka, which has sidelined him since then - had management twitchy.

Coach Mike Hesson's advice to his skipper in those moments?

"Don't," he quipped yesterday. "He plays cricket at one speed and we've got the pleasure of that for a few more games. Hopefully it (the ball) either goes fast to the boundary or he saves it next time."


Hesson said McCullum's enforced layoff meant he was among those players feeling the effects on a heavy outfield after the three-wicket win, which gave New Zealand a 2-0 ODI series over Pakistan. A first ball duck, caught at long leg, probably didn't help his mood either.

At times McCullum looked slightly removed from the game, Kane Williamson appearing to step up in more of an on-field leadership role. But Hesson said the captain is relishing the prospect of a final hurrah against the Aussies.

"He's had a bad back for a long time so I don't think popping pills is unusual on game days for some guys.

"When you don't play for a month and stand around three and a half hours and dive (in the field) it's going to hurt, but he got through allright."

Williamson's right forearm received treatment yesterday but ice and standard treatments have had it settle down.

Of the three injured frontliners, seamer Tim Southee (bruised foot) is on track for a comeback in a Plunket Shield game for Northern Districts against Central Districts in Napier starting on Friday.

That will be his skinny preparation for a hoped-for return in time for the first Australian test, starting at the Basin Reserve on February 12. He has got through some bowling at New Zealand's last two training sessions.

Left armer Mitch McClenaghan has had two steel plates inserted into his forehead after his nasty blow above an eye in the ODI in Wellington last week. The hope is he will be back training in a fortnight.

Senior batsman Ross Taylor's side strain is a "wait and see" situation according to Hesson.

He's out of the three Australian ODIs and the plan is to have him training on Febreuary 8 in Hamilton with fingers crossed he would be ready for that first test.

"In the next few days we'll get an indication," Hesson said.

So are the tests or the world T20 in India next month the priority for Taylor?

"When Ross is back he'll be fit and available, but obviously test cricket is a big fillip for us."