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McCullum left NZ in good shape: Southee

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/07/2016

Pace bowler Tim Southee admits it will be a little strange - playing Test cricket without Brendon McCullum as teammate.

Former New Zealand skipper McCullum retired from the international arena in February after 101 Tests, all of them consecutive.

His successor as captain is Kane Williamson, who will lead the side in the opening Test against Zimbabwe beginning in Bulawayo on Thursday night (NZT).

McCullum's career encompassed the 48 appearances that Southee has made in the five-day format.

"It's a first for a while," Southee said of a Black Caps Test side without McCullum.

"Brendon obviously having been a part of the last 101 Test matches for New Zealand, it will be a bit strange for people tuning in not to see him as part of the Test side.

"But it's an exciting new era. Kane has captained the side well in limited-overs stuff and I'm sure that will flow on to the Test game."

Southee said one thing McCullum wanted to do as skipper was to leave the Black Caps with an experienced core.

"He wanted to leave in a position where the side was ready to go on without him and I think he matured a lot of the guys," he said.

New Zealand go into the two-Test series after a 259-run win over Zimbabwe A in a three-day warm-up fixture in Harare.

Southee, who arrived in Africa from a New Zealand winter, had match figures of 4-46.

The 27-year-old right-armer has yet to play a Test in Zimbabwe and he prepared on a Tauranga pitch that the groundsman tried to make similar to the slow wicket expected in Bulawayo.

"It's exciting to come somewhere you've never been before," Southee said.

"We have a good meet-up in Pretoria and a great hit-out in Harare, where we played some pretty good cricket over three days and had plenty of time to adjust to the conditions."

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