There have been few teams over the years that reflected their captain as thoroughly as the recent Black Caps have resembled Brendon McCullum © Getty Images
There have been few teams over the years that reflected their captain as thoroughly as the recent Black Caps have resembled Brendon McCullum © Getty Images

Brendon McCullum is playing his final international match as New Zealand host Australia in the second Test at Hagley Oval, Christchurch. For the bulk of his career, McCullum seemed to be heading the route so many New Zealand cricketers had before him: an honest, likeable cricketer who was never really in league with the biggest stars of his generation. Till he took over as New Zealand’s captain, McCullum’s legacy was perhaps the 158 he scored to kick-off the Indian Premier League (IPL) in its inaugural match in 2008. He took over as captain of the Black Caps amid some controversy, with Ross Taylor’s ouster leaving a bitter taste.  FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: New Zealand vs Australia, 2nd Test at Christchurch

Having taken over the reins in January 2013, McCullum led New Zealand to successive innings defeats in South Africa. England toured New Zealand soon after that. Despite taking a 293-run lead, New Zealand were unable to bowl out England in their second innings in the first Test. Rain saved New Zealand from a possible defeat in the second Test, and Matt Prior managed to save the final Test for England by a whisker. VIDEO: Brendon McCullum slams fastest Test ton against Australia in 2nd Test at Christchurch

It was soon New Zealand’s turn to tour England, and they suffered massive defeats. New Zealand then toured Bangladesh, and the hosts held New Zealand to draws in both Tests. Next, West Indies visited New Zealand. A monumental 218 from Darren Bravo following on meant that West Indies escaped with a draw. READ: Brendon McCullum receives guard of honour from Australia in final Test at Christchurch

By now it was 10 Tests and almost a year since McCullum took over as skipper. He had yet to win a Test. The tide was soon to change, in phenomenal fashion. West Indies were hammered at Wellington and Hamilton. India toured next, and despite being in winning positions in both Tests the visitors ended up losing one and saving the other. West Indies were beaten 2-1 at home, and Pakistan were held to a 1-1 stalemate in UAE. Sri Lanka were crushed 2-0 when they toured New Zealand. England pulled off a superb win at Lord’s but New Zealand bit back with an equally enthralling victory at Headingley. New Zealand had now gone six series without a defeat. READ: Skipper Brendon McCullum gave himself absolute freedom, and stats prove he thrived in it

A tour to Australia came next, and it was there that their streak finally came to an end; but not before some controversy in the Day-Night Test at Adelaide, that could have ended differently had a close call gone New Zealand’s way. Sri Lanka were dispatched 2-0 when they toured New Zealand next. Australia next visited New Zealand and won the first Test at Hamilton by an innings. Australia had New Zealand in the doldrums at 32 for 3 in the ongoing second Test at Christchurch before McCullum turned the tide. It remains to be seen how the match pans out, but under McCullum New Zealand have shown the tendency to come back from the brink. READ: New Zealand must keep Brendon McCullum’s legacy alive

As for ODIs, McCullum rates among the most successful captains of all time. Among all cricketers who have captained in at least 50 ODIs, McCullum is No. 9 in terms of win percentage. Here is the list of the top 20 ODI captains who led in at least 50 matches, arranged by win percentage:

Player

Team

Period

M

W

L

T

NR

WIN %

Clive Lloyd

West Indies

1975-1985

84

64

18

1

1

77.71

Ricky Ponting

Australia, ICC

2002-2012

230

165

51

2

12

76.14

Hansie Cronje

South Africa

1994-2000

138

99

35

1

3

73.7

Michael Clarke

Australia

2008-2015

74

50

21

0

3

70.42

Steve Waugh

Australia

1997-2002

106

67

35

3

1

65.23

Viv Richards

West Indies

1980-1991

105

67

36

0

2

65.04

Graeme Smith

South Africa, Africa

2003-2011

150

92

51

1

6

64.23

Shaun Pollock

South Africa, Africa, ICC

2000-2005

97

60

33

3

1

64.06

Brendon McCullum

New Zealand

2009-2016

62

36

22

1

3

61.86

Waqar Younis

Pakistan

1993-2003

62

37

23

0

2

61.66

Wasim Akram

Pakistan

1993-2000

109

66

41

2

0

61.46

Allan Border

Australia

1985-1994

178

107

67

1

3

61.42

AB de Villiers

South Africa

2012-2016

81

47

30

1

3

60.89

Inzamam-ul-Haq

Pakistan, Asia

2002-2007

90

52

34

0

4

60.46

Mahela Jayawardene

Sri Lanka, Asia

2004-2013

129

71

49

1

8

59.09

Michael Vaughan

England

2003-2007

60

32

22

2

4

58.92

MS Dhoni

India

2007-2016

191

104

72

4

11

58.88

Sanath Jayasuriya

Sri Lanka

1998-2003

118

66

47

2

3

58.26

Marvan Atapattu

Sri Lanka

2001-2006

63

35

27

0

1

56.45

Rahul Dravid

India

2000-2007

79

42

33

0

4

56

The metaphors will continue to flow for McCullum, but his numbers alone are hard to ignore. There have been few teams over the years that reflected their captain as thoroughly as the recent Black Caps have resembled McCullum. That in itself says a lot.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)