London: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said the fact several key members of his side had only recently arrived in London from the very different conditions of the Indian Premier League could not be used as an excuse come Thursday's first Test against England at Lord's. Six likely members of the New Zealand XI, including McCullum himself, had stints in the Twenty20 IPL and only set foot in England just days before the first of a two-Test series.
Brendon McCullum. Pic: AP, PTI
Asked how he and his fellow IPL squad members were feeling, McCullum told reporters at an overcast Lord's on Wednesday: "Cold -- 45 degrees in Chennai to 10 degrees outside. "We are excited, a Test a Lord's is something very few people get the opportunity to play in. It's such an amazing ground, such character. "It's the tradition, the history of the ground.
The amount of great players who have played here and been in the dressing room. "The crowd is also unique, people talk about the Lord's buzz and it certainly does buzz. It's a wonderful place to play and dream of playing here. "There are challenges coming from the IPL but it was only last year when we went to the West Indies and got 500 in the first innings, so it can work as a positive as well.
It's certainly not an excuse." Asked if now was the right time to play an England side coping with Kevin Pietersen's ongoing exile and the sacking of coach Peter Moores, McCullum said: "They are obviously going through some challenges, we've been there as well and understand what every team has to go through but they are still stacked full of world-class players."
New Zealand have won four and drawn two of their six Test series since losing 2-0 in England two years ago. But they've won just four of their 52 Tests in England and only two series, in 1986 and 1989. - Earn the right - In the 2013 series opener at Lord's they were competitive until a second innings collapse saw them skittled out for 68, with Stuart Broad -- set to be an opponent again on Thursday -- taking seven for 44 in a match England won by 170 runs.
"We actually played reasonable cricket in that Test and were then just blown away in the last innings," said McCullum. "But at least we gave ourselves a chance. If, given the same situation, I'd hope we'd fare better. The guys have matured, we've had better performances in the last couple of years." Under McCullum, New Zealand have become renowned for an aggressive approach but the skipper said there was more to their game than being 'gung-ho'.
"We earn the right to get ourselves into a position to be instinctive and aggressive. It's all well and good trying and ending up 50 for eight; you have to earn the right then you can be entertaining from there." New Zealand, with Tim Southee taking seven wickets, thrashed England during their recent run to the World Cup final, where the Black Caps lost to co-hosts Australia.
"Cricket captivated our country in that World Cup," said McCullum. "Yes, the results were great but I think it was the manner in which we played the game and the spirit which we played in. That resonated with our public and people around the world, too. "It would be silly of us to try not to feed on the back of that momentum. "It is a different form of the game and we have to earn the right again. We created some memories that will last a lifetime."