'I need runs in order to justify a Test spot'

New Zealand

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum knows he needs to score big runs against the West Indies next month in order to justify his place in the Test team, and is eager to lead from the front for the young side.

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum knows he needs to score big runs against the West Indies next month in order to justify his place in the Test team, and is eager to lead from the front for the young side.

McCullum last scored more than 22 in an innings seven knocks ago, back in March against England, and has been out of action in recent weeks with a lower back injury. He was forced to miss the end of the tour to Bangladesh, and the trip to Sri Lanka.

But he is fit again and looking to contribute with the bat, even though he no longer keeps in the longer format, leaving the gloves to BJ Watling. Luke Ronchi kept wicket in Sri Lanka.

McCullum told <i>New Zealand Herald</i>: "As captain I need more runs to have more impact with the message you're delivering to the group. You always want to lead from the front.

"There's huge pressure in the next few Tests, not just from the team point of view but the individual as well. I'll certainly leave no stone unturned. Let's see how I go and if it doesn't work out we'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

He added: "I believe in this group of players and want to make a difference. Just because I've had a few low scores hasn't changed my thinking. I'm very determined to finish my career in a strong way and leave this team better than when I took over."

The skipper said he had no choice but to leave the ODI series in Bangladesh, as he was risking his health by playing on painkillers, and knew he could do irreversible damage, even though he'd already given up the gloves in Tests.

He added: "Before I went to Bangladesh I was the fittest and strongest I've been and tested off the scales, and still managed to pick up an injury. There was complete and utter disappointment. I knew it wasn't great.

"That last game, I played on pretty heavy painkillers and that's not how the game is meant to be played. I was incapable of keeping and was running around like an old man. Knowing I had to leave the tour, leaving the boys behind, was the hardest thing.

"I'd love to still be keeping in Test cricket but it's just not possible any more. I'm just lucky to be able to make the team as a batter, and some people question that, but I haven't picked a team throughout my career."

As for giving up keeping completely, he said: "It's something I've got to look at, and it's not very nice when it's what you've been doing it for a while. It might be either that [finish keeping] or give the game up.

"People think I pick and choose [games to keep wickets] but it's nothing to do with that. I've got a 60-year-old back and if I want to be able to lift my kids at 35 it's something I've got to entertain."

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