Brendon McCullum insists New Zealand view England as tough opponents, despite the myriad of off-the-field problems surrounding Alastair Cook’s hosts.
The first Investec Test at Lord’s will be the 100th between these two teams, and comes at a time when McCullum’s tourists are very much on the up.
The Black Caps captain is nonetheless not about to fall into the trap of assuming England will be off colour as they grapple with external issues such as the continued exile from Alastair Cook’s team of Kevin Pietersen and the absence of a permanent coach.
“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,” said McCullum.
“In their own conditions, they will be a tough proposition, and we are by no means thinking we have got them.
“We know we’ll have to play extremely good cricket.”
McCullum is loathe to pass judgement, in ignorance of many facts, on England and Wales Cricket Board director Andrew Strauss’s decision to offer Pietersen no way back into the international fold during this Ashes summer.
“Every environment is different – and without being among the England team, it’s very hard to make an informed decision on KP and the relationships within the group,” McCullum added.
“It would be foolish of me to make outlandish statements. I’ll let Alastair deal with those questions.”
McCullum is able to speak with more certainty about his own ranks. He will make some allowances, but not too many, for English conditions which may make adventurous batting more hazardous than normal.
“I want the guys to still play with a free spirit.
“We earn the right to get ourselves into a position to be instinctive and aggressive.”
New Zealand lost 2-0 under McCullum on their most recent visit two years ago.