BLACKCAPS duo confident

BLACKCAPS duo Brendon McCullum and Nathan Astle returned from the team’s tour of South Africa confident the team would bounce back from the series defeat next season.

The State Canterbury Wizards players put the 2-0 defeat to the Proteas in perspective on their arrival back in New Zealand.

The reverse in the three-match series concluded an otherwise winning season for the BLACKCAPS, which saw the team enjoy an unbeaten seven-Test run, including five successive victories before heading to the Republic.

Those successes came on top of One-Day International series triumphs over the West Indies, Sri Lanka and the Videocon Cup win against Zimbabwe and India.

The difficult, season-ending tour was the toughest assignment of their campaign, which stretched back to August 2005.

But both players felt the month-long expedition would yield benefits for the BLACKCAPS in the months ahead.

Wicketkeeper McCullum said: “It was just one of those tours where we struggled. Hopefully long term, we’ll get some systems in place that will benefit us.

“As a whole we were pretty good at times and we’d get ourselves into a position of strength or parity and then we’d just manage to slip up in those situations.

“Unfortunately, we lost 2-0 and we’ve got to cop that sweet and it’s not a nice way of going into the winter but that’s the realisation of it and we’ve just got to look forward to next season.

“The guys are still upbeat. Disappointed, but upbeat about what lies ahead for us in the upcoming 12-18 months.

“We had a good run against the West Indies and won five Tests in a row so we’ve only lost two out of the last three. I wouldn’t imagine there would be any fall out.”

And Astle added: “It’s a happy camp, but it was a tough tour. It was South Africa, so it was always going to be tough in their back yard.

“They play well there and they’ve come off a good Test series, although they lost, against Australia so they had some hard cricket and I think we saw that in our three Tests.

“It was enjoyable, but they’re hard to beat over there, and we’re exactly the same at home when we play here, people struggle to beat us. It was disappointing, but that’s just Test cricket.”

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