McCullum praises bowlers for big win
New Zealand skipper, Brendon McCullum paid rich tributes to debutant off-spinner, Mark Craig after New Zealand secured a massive victory in the first Test at Kingston, Jamaica.
The rookie off-spinner took 4 wickets in both innings (4/91 and 4/97) to help New Zealand record only their second ever Test win in the Caribbean Islands. He was also named as the Man of the Match for his excellent show.
Needing 403 for an outright victory, West Indies lost wickets in a clump and only an entertaining 10th wicket stand worth 82 runs between Shane Shillingford and Suliemann Benn prevented complete humiliation. The hosts were eventually knocked over for 216, losing by a big margin of 186 runs.
Craig's sterling eight wicket haul was also the best ever performance from a New Zealand bowler on Test debut. He eclipsed the previous best of 7/143, by Paul Wiseman in 1998 against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
McCullum said Craig displayed plenty of maturity in what was a 'brilliant' show. "He went about his work, he was never fazed at any stage," he said. "Obviously the conditions were helpful, but you've still got to be able to apply pressure over a long period of time to be able to get the rewards."
There were a lot of positives for the New Zealand camp from the Test, and the performance of leg-spinner Ish Sodhi gave McCullum plenty of confidence. Sodhi supported Craig well in the second innings, and ended up with figures of 3/42, including the prize scalp of Shiv Chanderpaul. "It's a little bit different from our normal game plan to have two spinners operating, and base our last innings around that form of attack.
"It's pleasing that both those guys, young in experience, were able to succeed in these conditions and ultimately bowl us to a Test win," McCullum said.
On a pitch that did not support the pacers, New Zealand's new ball bowler, Tim Southee was a revelation. He was virtually unplayable in the first innings, finishing with 4/19 and chipped in with two more wickets (Kieran Powell and Chris Gayle) in the second innings. The skipper was delighted over the manner in which the 'strike bowler' responded to the flat surface. "For me, Tim's the leader of the attack. He's not old in years, but he's certainly wise in experience," McCullum said.
"In conditions which weren't overly helpful for seam bowlers, the spells that he bowled and the rewards he got were testament to how well he bowled," he added.