New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum full of praise after draw with England
Last Updated: 10/03/13 10:23am
Brendon McCullum: Felt the loss of the opening day to rain denied the Test a thrilling finish
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was full of praise for his side despite seeing them come up short in their bid for victory in the first Test against England.
The hosts endured a frustrating final day in Dunedin, nightwatchman Steven Finn batting for nearly five hours to help England make sure the series opener ended in a tame draw.
"It was hard to get the ball out of their hands to be honest - that's a great sign for a young bowling group. Each and every one of them bowled outstandingly well throughout this game."
Neil Wagner took 3-143 as the Kiwi bowlers couldn't be faulted for their efforts, in the end a docile pitch at the University Oval blunting their hopes.
Still, the performances of his attack, as well as a century on debut from opener Hamish Rutherford, gave McCullum several reasons to be cheerful ahead of the second match of the series in Wellington.
"I thought the bowlers' efforts over the last two days were phenomenal," he said. "They kept coming in hard and kept trying. We never gave up believing we could get the job done, but we just didn't have quite enough to finish it off.
"It was hard to get the ball out of their hands to be honest - that's a great sign for a young bowling group. Each and every one of them bowled outstandingly well throughout this game.
"They were huge on day one, and they were equally huge in the second innings as well. They just quite didn't get things to go their way, but I'm incredibly proud of their efforts."
On Rutherford's knock of 171, he added: "I thought Hamish Rutherford's effort on debut was something not just him but everyone who at the ground will remember for a long time."
New Zealand's hopes were not helped by the loss of the opening day to rain, though they did try and make up for lost time by dismissing England for just 167 in their first innings.
"We weren't able to crack it in the end, but another day of Test cricket would have been phenomenal," McCullum added.
"Obviously to lose that first day, you have to work out how to condense such a good game into four days. Unfortunately we weren't able to, but I thought it was a great game for us.
"England showed some fighting characteristics in their second innings with the bat, so overall it was a great start to the Test series."