The Kiwi skipper has been regarded as a poster boy for good sportsmanship in the game
CANBERRA: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said Thursday he expects good spirit to prevail over spiteful sledging in next month’s Test series against Steve Smith’s rebuilt Australian team.
The Kiwi skipper has been regarded as a poster boy for good sportsmanship in the game and last month collected a spirit of cricket award for his leadership on New Zealand’s tour to England.
His stance on on-field spite has not always been matched by an Australian team brought up on what former captain Steve Waugh called mental disintegration.
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Things became heated the last time the two nations met in the World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in March, with wicketkeeper Brad Haddin criticised for repeated sledging.
Haddin later said he did it because he felt “uncomfortable” with how nice the Black Caps had been for their earlier pool match in Auckland.
Asked whether he thought things might change now that Haddin and some other senior Australian players had moved on, McCullum said only time would tell.
“We’re certainly not spending any energy on it or worried about it,” he said ahead of New Zealand’s first tour match against the Prime Minister’s XI in Canberra on Friday.
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“With Steve Smith and Darren Lehmann as coach, I think the two teams will get on well.
“It’ll be healthy competition on the field but I think it should be played in good spirits.
“Our focus will be very much on our skills rather than anything.”
Under McCullum’s leadership, the Black Caps have earned praise for their fearless but fair-minded style of play in 2015 — including their run to the final of the World Cup and a drawn Test series with England.
“It’s better than not being the nice guys,” McCullum smiled.
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“We just go play cricket and we have a good time while we’re at it.
“We’ve got a great bunch of guys that we’re playing with. We’re out there representing our country and that’s where our focus is rather than the other stuff.”
Following Friday’s day-nighter, New Zealand will play a two-day red-ball match against a Cricket Australia XI over the weekend, before playing them again in Sydney over four days next week.
New Zealand are aiming to win their first Test series in Australia since 1985, beginning in Brisbane on November 5.