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McCullum backs England for Ashes

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LONDON — New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said England were “red hot favourites” to retain the Ashes after the Black Caps had their “hearts ripped out” by Alastair Cook’s men.

Report by Supersport

England completed a 2-0 series whitewash with a commanding 247-run victory over New Zealand in the second Test at Headingley on Tuesday.

This was England’s last Test before the Ashes opener at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge ground in July.

Australian batsmen have struggled against the swinging ball in recent Ashes series and McCullum said: “England are red hot favourites at home, their ability to swing the Duke ball is huge. Any team that plays at home is familiar with the surroundings.”

McCullum added the defining moment of his team’s Test campaign against England had been the fourth day of the first Test at Lord’s.

New Zealand collapsed to 68 all out, England paceman Stuart Broad taking a Test-best 7-44, as they suffered a 170-run defeat.

“Right up until that point our self-belief was very high and that ripped our hearts out and just started to create some self-doubt among us which is a horrible thing in this game,” McCullum said.

Headingley saw New Zealand experience fresh batting woes, mainly against offspinner Graeme Swann who took 10 wickets in the match.

“That’s what unfolded in this Test,” McCullum added after the tourists could only manage 174 in reply to England’s first innings 354 before being bowled out for 220 in pursuit of an improbable 468 for victory.

What made the result all the more galling was that in New Zealand earlier this year the Black Caps held England to a 0-0 draw in a three-Test series and were just one wicket away from claiming victory in the Auckland finale in March.

“Yeah, definitely a step backwards,” said McCullum, whose seamers posed problems for England.

“It’s incredibly disappointing but if you look back on the last five Test matches we’ve played some good cricket and taken some strides forward but it’s fair to say this one was a step back.”

New Zealand’s chances at Headingley were not helped by left-arm quick Trent Boult being off the field for most of England’s second innings after he aggravated a side injury.
In Boult’s absence, England captain and opening batsman Alastair Cook scored 130.

“He’s not looking great, he has a scan in London, he’s still not moving that freely which is a shame because he’s been a revelation for us this season,” McCullum said of Boult.

“When we play England with Alastair at the top, it’s going to be harder to get a dismissal.”

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