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

Sep 17, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Sep 18, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Mohali

World T20 League 2014

Sep 19, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Raipur

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Mohali

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Mohali

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 16, 2014  at Raipur

Northern Knights won by 6 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 16, 2014  at Raipur

Lahore Lions won by 55 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 14, 2014  at Raipur

Mumbai Indians won by 9 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 14, 2014  at Raipur

Northern Knights won by 72 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 13, 2014  at Raipur

Lahore Lions won by 6 wkts

Photos

West Indies vs Bangladesh, 2nd Test at Gros Islet

Videos

Anderson plays golf with Jaguar competition winners

Kevin O’Brien: Ireland will look to adjust to conditions in Australia-New Zealand ahead of ICC World Cup 2015

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) CLT20 2014 Match 1 — Key battles

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) CLT20 2014 Match 1: Kolkata Knight Riders’ likely XI

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) CLT20 2014 Match 1: Chennai Super Kings’ likely XI

CLT20 2014: Why Mumbai Indians failed to recreate the magic

Bangladesh Bangladesh vs West Indies Bangladesh vs West Indies 2014 Champions League T20 Champions League T20 2014 CLT20 CLT20 2014 Lahore Lions Mumbai Indians Mumbai Indians vs Lahore Lions Northern Knights Southern Express West Indies West Indies vs Bangladesh West Indies vs Bangladesh 2014

Saeed Ajmal suspension: PCB assures full support for rehabilitation

Javed Miandad: Shahid Afridi shouldn’t take T20 captaincy for granted

Gautam Gambhir : KKR’s CLT20 campaign is for Jammu and Kashmir

Misbah-ul-Haq: Pakistan focused on ICC World Cup 2015 preparations

Jerome Taylor picks up his 100th Test wicket

Leave it to Smiths — an all-Smith XI

Kevin O’Brien: Ireland will look to adjust to conditions in Australia-New Zealand ahead of ICC World Cup 2015

Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014: Top 10 young players to keep an eye on

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) CLT20 2014 Match 1 — Key battles

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) CLT20 2014 Match 1: Kolkata Knight Riders’ likely XI

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

635 Posts | 7 Fans

Yuvraj Singh in Anupam Kher show

Beintehaa: Will Aaliya expose Zarina’s dirty secret?

Ashutosh Gowariker: I waited three years for Hrithik Roshan to find time for Mohenjo Daro!

‘Spider In Da House’ app to help identify house spiders

Bang Bang: Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif’s action thriller in the making

From 4 MLAs in 2009, its now ‘Mission 60 plus’ for BJP in Haryana

Paytm integrates its digital wallet with more than 400 online merchants in India

Amitabh Bachchan recovering from fever

Kamal Haasan fine after food poisoning

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here