— Paresh Godhwani (@Par_God) April 4, 2019
Brendon Barrie McCullum was born in Dunedin, Otago, NewZealand. Dunedin is the principal city in the Otago region. Brendon McCullum’s father Stuart McCullum is a former cricketer who played domestic cricket for Otago for fifteen years. Thus, the game of cricket was in Brendon’s genes. He would have got great support and push from his father in his growing years. I believe it would have been the dream of his father to play international cricket which was fulfilled by Brendon and Nathan. Though he might have had the dream of playing international cricket, he never forced his sons to play cricket as Nathan started as a footballer and later he shifted to cricket.
Brendon did his schooling in Dunedin along with his brother Nathan. Like many other players, Nathan and Brendon also started playing cricket in their backyard. Brendon and Nathan not played only cricket in their backyard, their backyard was so big that they played a lot of other sports as well. From playing in the backyard to playing for the same province as their father, McCullum brothers started playing professional cricket together. And from playing for Otago together, they went on to play for NewZealand. The journey of McCullum brothers has been amazing but when it comes to international cricket, Brendon has been a sensation.
Brendon McCullum has been brutal, brash and brilliant to watch cricketer. There are very few cricketers who are as fearless as Brendon McCullum. He can destroy any bowling attack in the world. He is that kind of player who has set the standards of batting and fielding. As far as batting is concerned, Brendon has set the standard of scoring at a certain pace or at certain strike rate. While in fielding, he changed the definition of good fielding and a good catch. On the cricket field, he has proved that age is just a number. Even after playing cricket for more than 15 years, he is as agile as a sixteen year old boy. Brendon McCullum score runs (quickly) with the bat and save the fours, sixes and take game changing, stunning catches while fielding. So people have given McCullum the nickname of game changer. Brendon McCullum is also known as Baz.
Brendon McCullum and A 90s Kid
Brendon McCullum made his international debut in 2002. I was almost eleven by then. He started as a wicket keeper batsman and used to bat deep down the order. Thus he didn’t get much chance to bat for a longer period. In the initial phase of his career, whenever he got the chance to express himself, he was a player to watch. When he got the chance to play test matches then he started showing the glimpses of what he is capable of. Then the era of twenty 20 arrived and McCullum was asked to open the innings. As if he was given the license to go for the kill. I was introduced to his abilities when he started opening the innings. As an opener, he opened the bouquet of his shots which were brutal and it ignited the excitement in me.
McCullum’s success with the bat earned him the captaincy of NewZealand team. He got the reigns on the controversial note but he ended up as the most successful captain of NewZealand. McCullum proved his mettle in all the formats of the game. He changed the way game is played. Through out his career, his stunts while fielding left me in awe. McCullum’s approach, agility and reflexes surprised me and made me bow down in front of his commitment. He was used throughout the NewZealand batting order and he played some game-changing knocks at every position he was offered by the management.
Great Knocks by Brendon McCullum
Kiwi batsman is the only player in the world to play 100 consecutive test matches since debut. He started expressing himself when he got the chance in test matches but he showcased his best in the later part of his career. In 2014, India was having a miserable time in NewZealand. India had lost ODI series and the first test of two test series as well. I was hoping that India will draw the series but McCullum had other plans. McCullum has had hit double hundred in the first test but he had saved best for the second match. In that match, he went one step ahead and scored triple hundred. I enjoyed that innings, I would have enjoyed a lot more if it wouldn’t have come against India. McCullum became the first NewZealander to hit the triple hundred. I loved the moment when he reached the milestone because his father was in stands and he stood up to applause his son’s best innings. It was a very special moment on the cricket field.
It was a very special inning because McCullum wasn’t just bashing the ball all around. He played more than 550 deliveries to reach that milestone. So it was very mature innings. McCullum has also played bashy test innings. In his last test series against Australia, Brendon made the record of fastest test hundred. He hit hundred off just 55 deliveries. It was a cherry on the cake. I watched that innings live and felt very fortunate to witness great test career of Brendon McCullum.
Like test career, his ODI career was also at its best at the end. He has played a lot of good knocks in ODIs but I will never forget his 2015 world cup outing. He played that world cup with attack, attack, attack mindset. McCullum was scoring fifty in no time. In no time, the opposition was under pressure against NewZealand. He scored three fifties in that tournament and on all three occasions, NewZealand won the match comfortably. He hit the fastest 50 in world cups during that world cup. The best part of his batting during that world cup was, he was leading from the front. He took his team to the final with attack, attack, attack approach. It was so exciting to watch him play like that. I didn’t miss any NewZealand match in that world cup.
We attack, attack, attack because it works.
Under his captaincy, NewZealand team reached in final of world cup for the first time in the history of the game. What I enjoyed was, with his performance, McCullum was inspiring other players to give more than 100% on the field. Not only was he showing his best form with the bat, he was saving every single run while fielding as well. And this inspired Daniel Vettori to take one handed stunner. I simply loved and enjoyed the entertaining brand of cricket by NewZealand during that world cup. And it was McCullum who pushed kiwis to play that kind of cricket.
It won’t be wrong if I say Brendon McCullum defined the batting in twenty20 cricket. Till the time of his retirement, McCullum had the most runs in T20Is. He has played a lot of fiery knocks in t20 cricket as well and couple of them have made me think “is there a better player than Brendon McCullum in twenty 20 cricket?” There are hard hitters of the cricket ball but they are not better than McCullum. They are as good but not better than him. First of those two innings is his maiden T20I hundered against Australia. I agree that ground was small but those who witnessed that innings know how hard and well he hit the cricket ball that day.
Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes were bowling at the speed of 150 to 155 kmph, McCullum was scooping them for fours and sixes. When McCullum reached to 100 run mark, his brother Nathan McCullum was at the non-striker’s end. It was simply incredible and amazing to watch. The other knock which made me fall in awe of McCullum is the knock of 158 in the very first match of IPL. He gave the perfect start to Indian Premier League. Ask people about the first memory of IPL and most of them will respond as “McCullum’s knock of 158.”
As a person, he has matured over the time. And it was the game of cricket which helped him in gaining the maturity. In the speech for MCC in 2016, he mentioned how he matured as a player and as a person. McCullum mentioned about the events and incidents which helped grow as a person and as a cricketer. After hearing that speech, my respect for him reached to the next (topmost) level. I want to learn two shots from Brendon McCullum. One, he comes down the track and whack the fast bowlers on the off side and two, the scoop he plays (again) off the fast bowlers. I have tried to play those shots but have got success (only few times) in the whack shot. Whenever McCullum comes out to bat, I concentrate on the sound of his bat. If I hear the perfect ‘tak’ of his bat then the ball will go cross the boundary line for sure. Apart from these shots, I would love to possess his reflexes and agility on the field
Lastly, Brendon, thank you for giving me the opportunity to witness some great quality of unorthodox cricket. You will always be that legend of the game to whom I will look up for entertainment.