LONDON (AFP) - New Zealand head into their Test series with England hoping they have at last found an effective opening partnership. During their 2-1 defeat at home by England earlier this year, New Zealand failed to record a single first-wicket partnership of fifty, putting pressure on their middle order. But in other areas they troubled England and Brendon McCullum, New Zealand's vice-captain, believes if they can find a steady opening combination the team could emulate their 1999 predecessors and win a Test series on English soil. "We won that first Test match with a formula that worked against them and if it wasn't for our inability to score runs at the top of the order in the last two Test matches then I'm sure we'd have run them a lot closer than we did," said wicket-keeper McCullum. "We've learned some huge lessons and taken a lot of confidence out of the performances recently and I'm sure if we can hit our straps and get the areas right that we're looking to maximise than we've got a real chance of coming out on top in this series, even if we are massive underdogs. "Our bowling unit is pretty sound, but the times where they have struggled is when we haven't given them enough rest with the bat," said McCullum, himself a dynamic middle-order batsman whose greatest run-scoring feats have been in one-day, rather than Test, cricket. "That is something we need to make sure we can do in this Test series, to maximise the time they are off the park so they've got time to recover. The onus for that is on the top six to carve out some big runs and spend some significant time out in the middle." New Zealand dropped opener Matthew Bell and batsman Mathew Sinclair from their tour squad after disappointing displays against England. Now they have put their faith in Aaron Redmond and the uncapped Otago opener responded by scoring 146 and 64 against the England Lions, the national 'A' team, at the Rose Bowl last week. And McCullum is backing Redmond, likely to be opening alongside Jamie How, to carry on that form into the first Test at Lord's, which starts on Thursday. "He's been fantastic, he's been brilliant," said McCullum. "He spent 360 overs on the bounce fielding and batting out in the middle and to be able to score 150 and then back it up with 12 overs with the ball and then to score 60-odd in the last innings is great. "I'm sure he'll be a tired boy over the next couple of days but with a nice break leading in I'm sure his confidence will be high. "It's certainly nice to have a top-order batsman like Aaron in such good form going into the Test match. "He hasn't played a Test match but I'm sure if he plays the way he has done he will be very successful because the Lions attack was good and the confidence he will take out of this will stand him in good stead."