New Zealand’s captain Brendon McCullum (L) stands with teammates after they lost the third test against Australia.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum refused to blame third umpire Nigel Llong’s controversial review decision for his team’s loss in the third and final test against Australia but said the “frustrating” ruling had a major bearing on the game.
Llong’s contentious reprieve of Nathan Lyon from a caught behind appeal took the wind out of New Zealand’s sails on day two and Australia grabbed another 108 runs from their last two wickets to take a slender lead that had earlier seemed improbable.
The controversy still rumbled late on day three as Australia completed victory by three wickets in the first day-night test on Sunday, sealing the three-match series 2-0.
“At the time it was obviously incredibly frustrating. It definitely had a bearing on the game,” McCullum told reporters.
“You hope that when mistakes are made, they don’t have a major bearing on the game but, I guess, none of us are naive enough to overlook that fact that it did in this instance.
“But, to Australia’s credit, they seized that opportunity as well. They were able to put on two very strong last-wicket partnerships which gave them a short lead but also, more importantly, gave them time out of the game in terms of when we were going to be able to bat under lights.
“In the end, we still had an opportunity and we weren’t quite able to get across the line.”
Australia bowled New Zealand out for 208 to set a victory target of 187 and though seamer Trent Boult’s five wickets took the match down to the wire, the hosts’ lion-hearted paceman Peter Siddle stroked the winning runs under the floodlights.
The 2-0 series loss was bitter for McCullum, who had spoken proudly of his team’s undefeated record in seven series since 2013.
He looked ahead to the re-match on home soil when New Zealand host Australia in two tests next year.
“I think what we’ve seen in the last two test matches is closer to where we want to be as a team and by the time that Australia arrive on our shores, I’m sure after a pretty intense summer as well, we’ll be almost reaching our peak as a team,” McCullum said.
“In our own conditions it should be an interesting and enthralling series and if we can win those two, we’ll call it a 2-2 draw over a five-match series and our unbeaten run continues,” he added with a laugh.
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