McCullum trusting Southee over fitness decision


Brendon McCullum believes Tim Southee is capable of coming to his own decision over his availability for the second Test with Australia, which starts on Friday.

Opening bowler Southee left the field during Australia's first innings of the first Test at the Gabba with a back problem, and did not return to bowl as the hosts wrapped up a convincing 208-run success.

Ahead of the second match of the three-Test series in Perth, McCullum says Southee will be trusted to give an honest appraisal of his fitness.

"We'll speak to him throughout the practice and have a yarn to him later on," McCullum told ABC radio.

"Tim's a strong leader in this group and he's an absolute champion within the set-up and we'll give him as long as he needs but ultimately he'll be very, very honest with his assessment.

"He'll do what's right for the team and hopefully that is that he can take his place in the line-up because he's an outstanding bowler and an influential member for us."

Matt Henry is likely to step in should Southee not make it, while Neil Wagner has been called up as cover. Mitchell McClenaghan - uncapped at Test level - has been brought into the squad after Jimmy Neesham was ruled out of the remainder of the series with a back problem.

After their resounding first-Test defeat, McCullum has backed his players to respond at the WACA, where high temperatures are expected.

"We weren't at our best in Brisbane, hands down, we were outplayed by a team which was far better than we were in the game," the captain said.

"We have done some pretty special things over the last little while. This team has got a lot of steel and a lot of resolve about it. I am not saying we are going to go out and win this Test match because we may not. Australia may be too good for us.

"But I am pretty confident we are going to put in a much stronger performance. Where that sits on the overall perspective of Australians, and how they view the New Zealand cricket team, that's out of our control, really.

"We have got a three Test-match series here, we have got an opportunity to still win the series, we have got an opportunity to show how good we can be. It remains to be see whether we can do that."