Life without Brendon McCullum

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Brendon McCullum. Ah! The name brings back so many memories. Persuading dad to permit a twenty-minute television break just because McCullum was coming out to bat, bunking school just to watch him play when the match was being held in a far-far away time zone, the only posters in my room being of the man playing an outrageous yet beautiful shot, all the times spent desperately trying and failing to emulate him on the school ground.

Gosh, how do you even measure the man? The simple answer is you do not. Actually, you cannot. Over the years, what most of the cricketing world realized is that the word adrenaline is synonymous with Brendon McCullum. Just take a moment and recall those special, unforgettable moments when he was at the crease, tapping his bat, about to face a ball. The excitement you felt when he tapped his bat, when he was flying through the air just to save harmless boundaries, you just can’t put some random number to it. I mean even when he pointed at his fielders to change their positions, you’d just feel this lightning bolt of adrenaline rush through your body as you wondered how much more funky fields he could keep coming up with.

 

 

Brendon McCullum never troubled the statisticians much, he never had the best records, barring in the twenty-20 international circuit. He would never be a batting or a wicketkeeping legend. He doesn’t have 10,000 test runs. He could never take the New Zealand test team to the coveted No.1 position. Have a look at his figures and you will know what I mean. He has a mere five tons in 50-over cricket. Very poor you would say, for a man who has played over 250+ matches and also opened the innings for the better part of his career. But here’s where things are different. Ask any person who is even a remote fan of him and 10 out of 10 times, what they would say is that the fact McCullum never possessed any records probably would never be a cause of regret amongst any of them. The only regret you could maybe, and I say maybe, have was that he is New Zealand’s greatest almost. Only if he had played himself in and only then gone for absolutely atrocious shots that fateful 29th day of March, would he have been New Zealand’s greatest. I cried on the day, all of us did. But alas we can’t turn time, whatever that is, back.

Coming to New Zealand’s campaign at the 2019 World Cup, there is one thing you can say with absolute certainty. When they take the field on the 1st of June against the Lankan Lions, they are going to miss Brendon McCullum. Kane Williamson would wish McCullum was out there at covers to guide him, the fans back home would wish McCullum was opening the innings. Not just the mental or psychological aspect of it, his big-hitting exploits too would be terribly missed. Sure New Zealand would have someone like Colin Munro or even maybe a Corey Anderson, and sure they would maybe somehow fill his hard-hitting boots but they could never bring in the fear factor that McCullum could bring, could induce in not only opposition bowlers but also captains and coaches.

The mega tournament is just a year away and Kane Williamson surely would have started his preparations. He knows the Kohlis and the Chandimals have full tours to England before the all-important World Cup which would, of course, help them and their teams to get as fully acclimatized to the conditions as possible and he knows his team doesn’t have one. And he also knows his team would be hugely dependent on him to come out good if they are to ever have a chance.

Maybe, just maybe, if he could incorporate some of McCullum’s ideas into his own captaincy, would the Kiwis stand a real chance to go on to win their first ever World Cup trophy? McCullum’s team was never lackluster, never boring. They always had to punch above their own weights, the opposition always seemed bigger. And what happened was that they went on to lose the finals of the world cup. But during the entire journey, they not only had their life’s biggest moments, but they also changed as a team, as individuals. Credit to McCullum.

So, yes, fingers crossed. Hoping the Kiwis play as their messiah taught them to. Maybe I would bunk college then to watch New Zealand play, even if McCullum wasn’t playing.

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