BLACKCAPS wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum left New Zealand in optimistic mood ahead of the team’s three-Test tour of South Africa.
Speaking as the team departed Christchurch Airport for the Republic, McCullum said the team had benefited from their positive experiences this season.
Their One-Day series victories already this year had set a solid platform but the keeper looked to last month’s Test success against the West Indies for a real indicator of progress.
He said: “The Windies were a bit rusty after playing 20 One-Dayers on the bounce. And after playing three Tests, well, two-and-a-half, against the West Indies, we’ve had a good build up and a good deal of confidence within the side.
“We’ve reached a level in Test cricket were we should be able to compete with the higher sides.
Asked if the Proteas were on a different level to the Caribbean side dispatched 2-0 last month, the keeper responded: “A step up from Lara and Chanderpaul? It’s hard to say. I think the West Indies are a good side, they’ve got some great names there.
“Brian Lara is the greatest player in the world but we managed to take care of him. So I guess with Smith and Gibbs and Kallis and the like they’re all very, very fine players, but hopefully we can take care of them as well.
“It’s going to be an interesting time for us and we start as underdogs but certainly we believe we’re good enough to win it.”
The State Canterbury Wizard underlined the combined importance of positive results and continual development.
“Winning’s pretty crucial,” he added. “It’s pretty important to us to come back with some results.
“For us, it’s just a matter of improving across the board. We’re not at that level yet where we can be comfortable with any area of our game.
“We’re certainly not in the top two Test sides in the world but we’re looking at being that and pushing it so it’s a matter of improving right across the board.
“So I guess that It's up to all the individuals concerned to make that step up and make the improvement.”
- Live scoring and reports on all three of the BLACKCAPS' Test matches in South Africa will be available on .
- for the BLACKCAPS' tour schedule.