12 Feb 2016

Basin Reserve set to farewell McCullum

11:32 am on 12 February 2016

Wellington gets its chance to farewell retiring Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum when New Zealand and Australian cricketers resume battle today with the first Test in a two match series starting at the Basin Reserve.

Having beaten Australia in the Chappell-Hadlee one day series, New Zealand is now chasing its first Test win over Australia in New Zealand since 1993.

Two years ago, McCullum became the first New Zealander to score a Test triple-century and on Friday at the Basin Reserve he'll achieve another milestone when he becomes the first of nearly 3000 Test players to play 100 consecutive Test matches.

He has not missed a match since his Test debut against Australia in 2004.

Brendon McCullum and his successor as Black Caps captain Kane Williamson (right).

Brendon McCullum and his successor as Black Caps captain Kane Williamson (right). Photo: Photosport

With the curtain coming down on an international career that began in 2002, McCullum admitted he had begun reflecting on a few highlights.

"From a team side of things I thought (winning) the West Indies series away from home (in 2014) was a really defining moment for us as a team. It's not an easy place to tour and to be able to get results over there was outstanding."

"I never got any runs and I still look back on it fondly," McCullum said.

"From an individual point of view obviously the 300 here (at the Basin Reserve) probably because of what it meant for the people who follow this team and who have represented this team in the past."

But McCullum said milestones have never motivated him as a player.

"The game's always been about in the changing rooms afterwards. Being able to sit round afterwards and see a group of guys who've achieved something over five days sit round with smiles on their faces, bit of music going and you've got dirty whites and sweaty black caps and a beer in your hand and being able to look back on (your) hard work. That's what I got into the game for."

New Zealand hasn't won a Test against Australia in New Zealand since 1993 and Australia captain Steve Smith says while McCullum century of Tests was a remarkable achievement, they did not want to send him off into retirement with a series win.

"Hopefully we can make it a pretty average one for him," Smith chuckled.

"We want to win but obviously he's been a terrific player for the (Black Caps) for a long time."

Australia captain Steve Smith is hoping his side can make Brendon McCullum's milestone test an "average" one.

Australia captain Steve Smith is hoping his side can make Brendon McCullum's milestone test an "average" one. Photo: Photosport

Ninety-nine Tests have certainly taken their toll on McCullum's body with back problems plaguing him throughout much of his career - but he looks in much better shape than his battered black cap, which he's worn since his Test debut against South Africa in 2004.

"It stinks. I got it out of the bag before and its absolutely rancid," said McCullum.

But he has not intention of replacing it or getting it repaired.

"It's one of those things with Test cricket. You use the same cap right throughout your career and I've had the same thigh pad since my first game for New Zealand and they're little superstitions. But they're signs of character you look back on, symbolising the hard work and the places you've been and the emotions you've had to deal with," he said.

"Hopefully it will hold in there for two more games."

The match will be played against the backdrop of a rather acrimonious finish to the Chappell-Hadlee series, following the dismissal of Mitchell Marsh who was controversially given out caught and bowled off his boot.

But Australian batsman David Warner maintained any ill feeling had dissipated and they were ready for any spectator flak they may receive.

"It (abuse) happens around the world. It happens in our own country and it's just part of the job and you've just got to go out there and clear your mind and not listen to it," said Warner.

"That series is done and its now about moving on to the Test matches. That's what my focus is and that's what the team focus is. We've moved on from that (game). The right decision was made at the end of the day.

There will be a full house at the Basin Reserve to farewell McCullum, with the first three days of the Test already a sell-out.

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