While a better part of the West is engulfed in the victory of the Denver Broncos and the possibility of Peyton Manning’s last career game at Super Bowl 50, a tiny island nation in the south-west of the Pacific Ocean, bids farewell to one of its most prolific sportsmen.
New Zealand is a country pampered by the glory of its Rugby national team. The All Blacks hold a legendary status in the Rugby community and the World Cup triumph in 2015 was just another mile marker in their success story. For a country, so glorified by its Rugby heroes, in the likes of Dan Carter and Richie McCaw, cricket needed a huge personality to distinguish itself in the new century. Enter, Brendon ‘Baz’ McCullum.
Ian Smith, during the coverage of New Zealand’s tour of England in 2015, mentioned that Brendon McCullum would go down in history as the one who saved the 50-over format. An opinion that would be shared by many cricket lovers. An aggressive style of captaincy and a batting style which focused on tearing the leather off the ball, propelled New Zealand to the final of the World Cup in 2015. It also instilled the faith among the people (and cricket administrators) that one-day cricket is not an endangered species.
An average of 30.41 in ODI’s doesn’t convey the true story of this Kiwi great, but then when you read the stat of 200 sixes in 228 innings, you get the story of the man. The numbers never mattered, as long as he could dominate the bowling and get his side to an explosive start.
Brendon McCullum played his last ODI match for the Black Caps at Hamilton and led them to a 2-1 series win in the third ODI against Australia. He was given a guard of honour by the Australians as he came out to bat for the last time in the 50-over format. He scored an entertaining 47 off 27 balls. He could have controlled himself and played for a big innings. He could have avoided the advance down the wicket and the big swing over mid-on. But, this is Brendon McCullum. Being conventional is unconventional for his kind. He came down the wicket to Mitchel Marsh, sliced the ball high in the air and John Hastings took the catch.
At the innings break in his last ODI, he told his teammates not get bogged down. He stated that, “It doesn’t matter what we get, it’s a matter of what they get.” It clearly lifted the team as they were able to defend a below-par score of 246 and win the match by 55 runs.
The series win may not fill the void of a world champion tag, but beating the current World Cup holders at home and ending an eccentric career with a series win, is a fitting way for the world to see a modern great don the Black Cap for the last time.