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Black Caps turn focus to England tour

Published: 5:02PM Monday January 28, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

The Black Caps arrived home from the tour of South Africa today with their focus already moving to the arrival of the England team for next month's tour.

New captain Brendon McCullum admits he is now feeling better about his leadership position after feeling vulnerable at times during his first campaign in charge.

"From a captaincy point of view it was nice to get a couple of wins to give you a little bit of confidence, to know that you're trying to do the right thing, and that your team is trending in the right direction," McCullum told ONE Sport upon arriving at Christchurch airport.

"It was a tough tour. I guess you go through periods during a tour like that, especially the Test matches, where you feel a touch vulnerable at times, as well when you're coming up against the best in the world and you've been exposed across the board.

"But I can't fault any of the efforts amongst the players or support staff or management. Everyone within the group I thought right throughout the tour, even when times were tough, we hung in there and it was nice to get the fruits of that labour towards the end."

Having been thrashed in the two Tests against the Proteas and losing the Twenty20 series 2-1, McCullum reflected on the team's success in the one day format and believed the signs were there that the Black Caps can compete with the best teams in the the world.

"When you look at the one day series you'd say it was a job well done. I thought the characteristics and fighting qualities we played with were outstanding and what this team wants to be known for, and it was great to be able to get the results especially against such a strong team as South Africa.

"We've got to make sure this is a starting point for us. We've had many starting points in the past but we've really got to make sure this one is one we can kick on from."

"Trending north" in all three forms of the game was the aim, he said, saying the Black Caps rankings heading into the tour of South Africa (eighth in Tests, ninth in limited overs, and eighth in Twenty20's) were, "not acceptable for a New Zealand cricket team."

McCullum says the pace and bounce of South African speedster Morne Morkel and the formidable Proteas batting lineup should prove beneficial as the Black Caps prepare for England's strong batsmen and right-arm pace bowler Steve Finn. McCullum saying it is vital for his side to show some improvement.

"They are going to ask a lot of questions of us so I think it's really important to be able to judge this team at the end of the Test series and see if we've made some developments."

Southee return

Coach Mike Hesson meanwhile, confirmed the Black Caps most potent strike weapon - Tim Southee - is expected back from a thumb injury in time for the Test series against England, in what will be a big boost to their attack.

"Tim is going to bowl up at the New Zealand A training's, which will be great in Whangarei," he said.

"He's going to struggle to hold a bat at the moment but hopefully once he gets to that point he can make the transition pretty quickly."

The Black Caps and England meet in the first of three Twenty20 games at Eden Park on February 9, with the one day series starting February 17, and the three Test series beginning on March 10.