New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum has praised his side’s resilience after they bounced back from a heavy defeat to square their Test series with England.
The Black Caps completed an emphatic 199-run win in the second Test at Headingley on Tuesday to end the two-match series level at 1-1 just over a week after their 124-run defeat in the first Test at Lord’s.
England, set what would have been a new fourth innings Test victory total of 455, resumed Tuesday on 0-44 but collapsed to 4-62 before lunch and were eventually bowled out for 255.
Part-time off-spinner Kane Williamson, primarily a batsman and once barred from bowling in international cricket because of a suspect action, was one of New Zealand’s bowling heroes with 3-15 in seven overs.
“We bounced back after Lord’s,” said McCullum after leading New Zealand to just their ninth win in 101 Tests against England.
“Obviously with a two-Test series we had to force the pace and I thought the guys bought into that and we played a really entertaining brand of cricket.”
Williamson made a fine century at Lord’s but managed just six runs in total at Headingley.
“There’s instinct and then there’s pure gambling I think….Kane’s got a bit of a knack,” said McCullum.
“He’s one of those guys who if he’s had a quiet Test match you can be pretty sure that he’s going to get involved somehow.”
McCullum also singled out man of the match BJ Watling who, playing as a batsman only after a knee injury suffered at Lord’s prevented him keeping wicket, justified his inclusion with a second-innings 120 that enabled the tourists to build a decisive lead after both sides made 350 in their first innings.
“I thought BJ Watling was outstanding, we love him,” said McCullum.
“He’s a tremendous player, he’s got a big heart and he’s a guy that you can build your team around.”
Meanwhile, England captain Alastair Cook was left to rue another missed opportunity as, for the second series in a row following their drawn campaign in the West Indies, his side were pegged back after going ahead.
“It was a disappointing day. After halfway we were right in the game but credit to New Zealand,” said Cook, who surpassed Graham Gooch as England’s all-time record Test run-scorer on Sunday.
England had been 1-215 in their first innings before losing a flurry of wickets while their fallible close catching – several chances went down – was shown up by New Zealand’s excellence in the field.
“As always against a good side, if you’re not 100 per cent on your A game you get found out so credit to Brendon and his team,” added Cook, England’s man of the series after the left-handed opener’s 162 at Lord’s was followed by two fifties at Headingley.
“They deserved the win.”