Home > Features >

Nathan McCullum’s effectiveness in limited-overs cricket is almost unheralded

Nathan McCullum's bowling average in ODIs is an impressive 4.85 © Getty Images
Nathan McCullum’s bowling average in ODIs is an impressive 4.85 © Getty Images

Nathan McCullum has been a curious presence in the New Zealand side despite not having very good numbers. Abhishek Mukherjee tries to explain why the older brother of Brendon McCullum is an essential component of his side, especially in the shorter formats.

The extended run given to the Otago wicket-keeper Stuart McCullum’s younger son can be baffling: yet to play a single Test, Nathan McCullum has played 65 One-Day Internationals (ODIs), averaging 20.63 with the bat and a terrible 47.10 with the ball. His 46 wickets from those matches also do not really speak very highly of the man.

Daniel Vettori’s long hiatus from the sport has, obviously, played a major role in Nathan’s long run, but that has not been all. Let us start with the bowling first: McCullum’s average is unusually poor — the sixth-worst in history among those with over 40 ODIs (second-worst if minnows and batsmen are excluded).

On the other hand, however, McCullum’s economy-rate reads a more than impressive 4.85. In fact, in the last three years, Kyle Mills has been the only New Zealand bowler with over 30 ODI wickets who has had a better economy rate. Mills, of course, has definitely been the best New Zealand seamer in the limited-over formats of the sport, and has better numbers than most think he does.

Let us try to find out exactly how good Mills and McCullum have been. With a phenomenal average of 26.75 and an economy-rate of 4.73, Mills has been up there with the very best in the history of ODIs (he had been the best bowler in the ICC rankings, and was in the top five for a substantial span of time).

McCullum concedes 4.85 runs an over. Between them, Mills and McCullum concede approximately 96 runs in 20 overs every match; while McCullum picks up close to a wicket a match, Mills has close to two on an average. This means that the almost invisible force they exert upon the opposition results in a potentially match-winning 20-0-96-3.

Between them, the two unsung heroes provide the perfect foil to Mitchell McClenaghan, Tim Southee, and the likes, allowing them to have a full blast at the opposition: they do not have to bother about conceding runs.

What about batting, then? McCullum’s 949 runs have come at a sub-21 average, but wait — he has an excellent strike-rate of 89.4. A couple of months back he had pulled off a stunning victory against Sri Lanka at Hambantota when New Zealand chased down an unbelievable total that had come down to 20 off the last over: McCullum had remained unbeaten on a nine-ball 32.

That, however, was not a one-off: a strike-rate of 89.4 is quite impressive. How impressive are these numbers? If we put restrictions, of, say, 60 matches, 750 runs, and 40 wickets, then only 10 men have a strike-rate of over 90 and an economy-rate below five. McCullum needs a marginal increase in his strike-rate to make it to the league. If we reduce the numbers to the over, McCullum scores at 5.36 runs an over and concedes 4.85.

In other words, McCullum is your quintessential ODI cricketer: the classical parameters of batting and bowling averages mean nothing to him. He is a cricketer of the new breed that is judged on an entirely different pair of parameters — batting strike-rate and bowling economy-rate, and on that count, he scores exceptionally.

What about T20Is, then? Let us consider the same parameters again: McCullum has a batting strike-rate of 105.17 and an economy rate of 6.85. Since Twenty20 is his genre, he strangles batsmen into submission, forcing them to succumb to his nagging accuracy: from 51 T20Is he has picked up 48 wickets at 20.72, which places him eighth on the all-time list. Of these eight men, Shahid Afridi and McCullum are the only ones to have scored over 250 runs.

Nathan McCullum, thus, may not be the best cricketer by the most classical of definitions, but he is effective, and the exact man a captain looks for in a limited-overs match: a man the opposition would not feel threatened by, but can be more destructive than it meets the eye and goes about his job silently.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is Deputy Editor and cricket historian at cricketcountry.com. He can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 11, 2014  at Delhi

India won by 48 runs

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 10, 2014  at Dubai

Australia won by 5 wkts

Photos

India vs West Indies 4th ODI at Dharamsala

Videos

AB de Villiers speaks ahead of New Zealand ODIs

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: 5 memorable matches

Yasir Shah: The new spinning sensation for Pakistan

Virat Kohli takes wicket with the first (0th?) ball of his T20I career

Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography — a litany of complaints with a few redeeming patches

Banning West Indian players in IPL can affect the ‘Brand value’ of the event – Will BCCI take this gamble?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 BCCI India India vs West Indies India vs West Indies 2014 New Zealand Pakistan Salaam Cricket South Africa West Indies West Indies cancel India tour 2014 West Indies tour of India 2014 West Indies vs India West Indies vs India 2014

IPL success embodies emergence of sports as global industry, says India’s representative at UN

Live Cricket Score: New Zealand vs South Africa, 1st ODI at Mount Maunganui

Live Scorecard: New Zealand vs South Africa, 1st ODI at Mount Maunganui

Kevin Pietersen is probably the best cricketer I have played with: Eoin Morgan

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: SLC defend decision to tour

James Neesham can provide more impetus to New Zealand’s weakened batting up the order

Virender Sehwag turns 36: Five most memorable innings of the Nawab of Najafgarh

New Zealand begin ICC World Cup 2015 preparations with 15 ODIs in store

Virender Sehwag paid birthday tribute to by Sophos Antivirus

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: 5 memorable matches

Fan of the Day

Gautam Singh

Gautam Singh

474 Posts | 5 Fans

Video Highlights Mohammed Yousuf drops catch after watching a girl in bikini

अभिनेत्री हुमा कुरैशी ओरिफ्लेम की ब्रांड एंबेसडर

Has Bigg Boss 8 made Karishma Tanna the most hated person?

Pranab Mukherjee returns home after visit to Norway, Finland

Revealed: First look of Amitabh Bachchan-Farhan Akhtar’s Do!

7 reasons why having sex during pregnancy is great for your health

Videocon Infinium Graphite with gesture control feature launched, priced at Rs 10,499

Rupee up 19 paise against dollar in early trade

Twitter introduces Audio Cards to listen to music directly from your timeline

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here