Home > Features >

Brendon McCullum — New Zealand captain who leads with pluck and imagination

Brendon McCullum is captaining a New Zealand side that is finally showing some promise © Getty Images
Brendon McCullum is captaining a New Zealand side that is finally showing some promise © Getty Images

Brendon McCullum may not have the best records as captain of New Zealand, but he is instinctive on the field. Bharath Ramaraj explains why the New Zealand captain deserves praise for his imagination.

In the game of cricket a player’s worth can be judged by number-crunching. But there is a facet of the game where it is evident that just mundane statistics may not give you the desired result, and that is related to appraising a captain’s worth. There are statistics with win/loss ratios under a captain’s tenure which can give an inkling of his ability to galavanise the team into performing with guts and gumption and achieve a well-earned win. However, every captain isn’t necessarily blessed with gift-wrapped teams consisting of truly world-class players who with their magnificence turn the game on its head. That is when one has to look beyond pure numbers to assess a captain.

New Zealand’s enterprising captain Brendon McCullum has led his country to only two victories in 12 Tests, has lost four of them while drawing the other six. In One-Day Internationals (ODIs), he has captained his country in 30 games, winning 14 of them and losing 14 (one game had ended in a tie while the other has been listed as abandoned). It is a record that is nothing to write home about. But despite having a promising bowling pace attack ready to blossom, New Zealand still lack the strength and depth to be an ultra-consistent performer.

Hence, it won’t be right on one’s part to judge McCullum on mere numbers. Here is a captain who every time takes his troop to the field with that much needed authority to lead the side. With a dash of gambling instincts, twinned with common sense, he sets aggressive fields and is not afraid to come out with a bowling change that may seem unconventional.

Every one of us from time to time will get a gut feeling, but only few do have the courage to follow and implement it. McCullum seems to be one of them who follows his gut feeling. In the Test match played between England and New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland last year, McCullum threw caution to winds by going for the jugular and bringing part time off-spinner Kane Williamson into the attack at the end of the fourth day’s play. Both Alastair Cook and Ian Bell had stonewalled New Zealand with infinite self-belief and immense concentration prowess. Williamson being brought into the attack though, perhaps led to both of them losing a bit of their zen masterly concentration prowess. From nowhere, Cook was dismissed by Williamson and he even snared night-watchman Finn’s wicket. Bell, batting with calm countenance started to now play with a fear of losing his wicket to a part timer. It shows that McCullum backed his instincts to the hilt.

There was an occasion or two in that series when the left-arm swing merchant Trent Boult would create a nice angle across the right-handed batsman and McCullum, not known to allow the game to drift would bring in the floating slip. He also used the short mid-wicket fielding position to good effect on tracks that were favouring batsmen. He shuffled his frontline bowlers well too. Actually, one of the main reasons New Zealand almost were able to upset the apple-cart in that series against the then fancied English side was due to McCullum’s dash of bravado as a captain.

Even in the ongoing ODI series against India, McCullum has won fulsome praise for his captaincy. He went in for the kill by using his spearhead, Tim Southee’s full quota of overs before the end of 40 overs in the fourth ODI at Hamilton.  The plan worked as Southee got the wicket of Ravichandran Ashwin during his last spell. He would have likely been hit by brickbats, if that stratagem had flopped miserably. This is where a captain needs a bit of luck along with pluck, while doing something that seems unconventional.

A fine captain can make an average team look better. Brendon McCullum was appointed as captain in rather controversial circumstances last year. But since he has taken over as the captain, the mettlesome McCullum has led New Zealand with pluck. Emboldened by the way McCullum has captained the side, New Zealand team is finally showing some promise and gradually, they are winning games as well. Interesting times ahead for McCullum and his band of men.

(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)

India tour of England 2014

Sep 2, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Birmingham

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Sep 2, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Sep 4, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

India tour of England 2014

Sep 5, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Leeds

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Sep 5, 2014 (19:30 IST)   at Kingstown, St Vincent

More

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 31, 2014  at Harare

Zimbabwe won by 3 wkts

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 30, 2014  at Dambulla

SL won by 7 wkts (D/L method)

India tour of England 2014

Aug 30, 2014  at Nottingham

India won by 6 wkts

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 29, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 61 runs

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 27, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 7 wkts

Photos

Australia vs Zimbabwe, ODI tri-series at Harare

Videos

Misbah disppointed with Pakistan's performance

Australia’s losses to minnows in limited-overs cricket

India tour of England 2014: Who is Jason Roy?

Zimbabwe’s 12 most memorable victories in international cricket

Zimbabwe vs Australia, 4th ODI: Highlights

Elton Chigumbura-Prosper Utseya partnership takes Zimbabwe to historic win over Australia

Australia Australia and South Africa in Zimbabwe 2014 England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Pakistan South Africa Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2014 Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Triangular Series 2014

Australia missed Steven Smith during Zimbabwe clash: Michael Clarke

India tour of England 2014: Ajinka Rahane comes out in support of Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli

Darren Lehmann embarrassed after Australia’s humiliating loss against Zimbabwe

India vs England 2014, 4th ODI at Edgbaston Preview: MS Dhoni’s men aim to seal series victory

Jason Roy brushes aside injury scare; says he is fit to play for England against India

Should Michael Clarke cut down on playing time ahead of ICC World Cup 2015?

Australia’s losses to minnows in limited-overs cricket

India tour of England 2014: Who is Jason Roy?

Zimbabwe’s 12 most memorable victories in international cricket

Zimbabwe’s moment of glory

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

667 Posts | 6 Fans

10 Most Unbeatable Records in Cricket

When Deepika Padukone, Shriya Saran, Nargis Fakhri went nude…

Shraddha Kapoor rocks earcuffs best, say fans!

TEOCO sees opportunity from telecom space in India

B-Town congratulates Abishek Bachchan post kabaddi team’s win

What happens inside your brain while watching movies

Soon, Google Glass app to reveal age

Motorola Moto X+1 alleged live photos leaked ahead of September 4 launch

Barclays Premier League 2014-15: Liverpool have reignited last season’s spark claims Brendan Rodgers

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here