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)

World T20 League 2014

Oct 2, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Oct 2, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

West Indies tour of India 2014, Practice match

Oct 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Mumbai

Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, 2014

Oct 4, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, 2014

Oct 4, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Brisbane

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 30, 2014  at Bengaluru

Barbados won by 6 wkts (D/L method)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 30, 2014  at Bengaluru

Perth Scorchers won by 3 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 29, 2014  at Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 36 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 28, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 7 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 28, 2014  at Mohali

Hobart Hurricanes won by 6 wkts

Photos

Barbados Tridents vs Hobart Hurricanes, CLT20 2014

Videos

Arjuna Ranatunga shares his views on U-19 cricket

Jasprit Bumrah: Sachin Tendulkar giving me my debut cap was my most memorable moment with Mumbai Indians

Sachin Tendulkar fans turn Durga Puja pandal into cricket stadium

Pakistan players would be allowed in IPL soon, hopes Shahryar Khan

Nawaz Sharif’s only First-Class appearance

Ernie Jones — the man who sent a ball through the beard of WG Grace

Asian Games Asian Games 2014 Barbados Tridents Cape Cobras Champions League T20 2014 CLT20 CLT20 2014 Dolphins India at Asian Games 2014 Kings XI Punjab KKR vs Dolphins Kolkata Knight Riders

High Court forms selection committees for Rajasthan cricketers

Rohit Sharma ruled out of India-West Indies ODI series

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should appoint Virat Kohli as Test captain: Mohammad Azharuddin

CLT20 2014: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will look to maintain consistency against Chennai Super Kings says George Bailey

Kolkata Knight Riders coach Trevor Bayliss surprised at Sunil Narine’s action being reported

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-final, CLT20 2014: KKR Likely XI

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-Final, CLT20 2014 – Key battles

CLT20 2014: Players who impressed in the league stage

Jasprit Bumrah: Sachin Tendulkar giving me my debut cap was my most memorable moment with Mumbai Indians

CLT20 2014: Lahore Lions vs Perth Scorchers, Match 19, Highlights

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

671 Posts | 6 Fans

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab- Final Match Highlights from IPL 2014

6 changes that take place in your breasts during pregnancy

How to Revive Old Trends and Fall in Love With Your Clothes — Again

NGOs pursue education for all

5 BB Creams for Darker Skin Types

Leaked: Mrunal Jain goes semi nude – view pic!

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-Final, CLT20 2014 – Key battles

Alia Bhatt goofs-up again, unaware of Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan’s resignation!

Why a steady heartbeat is bad for you

Windows 10 Technical Preview now available, here’s how to download it

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Hobart Hurricanes, 1st Semi-final, CLT20 2014: KKR Likely XI

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here