New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum backs England for the Ashes

Ashes 2013: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum says England are favourite to retain the urn this summer

Harry Kemble
By Harry Kemble
alastair cook
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum (right) Photo: The Sport Review

England will most likely retain the Ashes when they face Australia next month, according to New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum.

The Black Caps have formed England’s main opposition over the last four months after back-to-back series between the two nations and are therefore in a good position to make a judgment on Alastair Cook’s side.

“I think England are going to be a tough team to beat,” said McCullum. “They seem to have got their swagger back against us in that final Test match (at Headingley)”.

England suffered in New Zealand during their Test series in March, where they narrowly avoided losing, thanks to Matt Prior’s wonderful unbeaten 110 in the final match.

But in the return series in England, the hosts bounced back and comfortably secured a 2-0 win.

“What we saw in Leeds is a team that when they are firing they are an incredibly tough team, not just to beat but to compete against,” added McCullum.

“I thought for long periods of the summer we held our own against them but when it really mattered they flexed their muscles.

“I don’t expect that will change in the home summer here against Australia.”

Meanwhile, McCullum also ran the rule on the selectors’ decision to drop Nick Compton, who scored two hundreds over his side in five Tests matches this year, for the Ashes warm-up match against Essex.

The 31-year-old believes the move was tough on the Somerset opener.

“It’s probably a touch harsh on Compton after scoring two brilliant hundreds against us back home,” said McCullum, speaking at a news conference.

“We targeted him as one of the key wickets at the top of the order. He pained us for a fair amount of time back home with his innings.” c

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