Brendon McCullum: We walk away with our heads held high, I am sure everyone will be proud of what we have been able to achieve

New Zealand may have lost the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 title but they have gained whole lot of respect from the whole cricketing world for the way they have conducted themselves in the tournament. Their first World Cup final but they ended on the wrong side but certainly as Brendon McCullum told to the media, the team can be proud of their performances. They have done a brilliant job and have entertained the fans highly. The press conference can be heard in the audio widget above.

 

Q: Brendon, your reaction to tonight’s performance and the overall performance of the team at the World Cup?
Brendon McCullum (BM): Tonight’s performance, obviously somewhat disappointing, but at the same time I think Australia played better. It came down to one game. We gave ourselves that opportunity in this tournament with so much on the line, and ultimately Australia stepped up and they were too good for us on the night. Look, it’s a credit to them that they were able to do so on a big occasion. I’m really proud of the guys. I thought the way that we played throughout this tournament, the brand of cricket that we’ve played, the way we’ve entertained people and I guess left nothing out there in terms of the character and attitude on the field. I think it’s been one hell of a ride and something that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. It would have been great to have got the silverware but it wasn’t meant to be, but I think what we were able to achieve in this tournament will last for a long time. The friendships we’ve created, the experiences that we’ve had, and I guess the people that we’ve been able to inspire throughout the tournament is something that we’re really proud of. It’s never nice running second, but sometimes you’ve got to doff your cap to the winner.

Q: Just a question about players on the side. Yesterday Michael Clarke retired from the short form game. What about retirements within your side, rumours that there are players going to retire and that you may well be following in Michael Clarke’s footsteps, giving up One-Day cricket to do just Test cricket? Can you confirm or deny those rumours?
BM: First of all, I think Michael Clarke been an outstanding cricketer for Australia. I think his captaincy has been brilliant throughout his tenure. He deserves to bow out a World Cup winner. Sometimes there is a bit of romance in this game, and I think there was one of those occasions tonight. Congratulations to Michael, and he thoroughly deserves the achievements that he’s had. There may be guys within our group who will retire. We’ll let the dust settle on this one, and we certainly won’t look to grab any headlines over the next couple days because they belong to Australia and they’ve earned the right to do so. We’ll let the dust settle. We’ll be gracious in defeat and then we’ll work a plan over the next couple days for the some guys who may look to retire. But yeah, I think it’s the right thing to allow Australia to bask in the glory of their success.

Q: You win games, you lose games, but I’m wondering if you can give a sense of how much it rankles with you or irks you or disappoints you the way the game played out tonight, that you couldn’t really get close enough, and history books I guess will show that was a pretty convincing win for Australia. Does that kind of add to it a little bit, add to the disappointment, and secondly, did Australia surprise you at how hard they came out at you right from the off?
BM: It doesn’t rankle me because I think they were too good, and I think you’ve got to sometimes acknowledge when a team is better than what you were on the day. If we played them tomorrow, who knows what the result may be, but on the occasion, on the day, they stepped up and they delivered. I thought they obviously put us under early pressure, took three early wickets against us, and then we re-gathered. We gave ourselves an opportunity at three for 150, and then they came again at us. All credit to them to be able to grab those key moments. That took a lot in the lead-up to the game. I thought the game would be determined by how people stepped up and which team stepped up in those key moments, and Australia did so today. I think on the scoreboard, it does look convincing, and it was a convincing win in all honesty. There was times throughout the game I still felt as if we were in it, even 183 on the board, I still felt that we were still a chance in this game, and whether that’s my eternal optimism or some realism, as well, about the wicket and the fact that runs were on the board. What were they, two for 60? There was a couple of things which may have gone our way if we were able to get one or two more, then the game may have panned out differently, but it didn’t, and all credit to Australia for the way that they were able to deliver on the biggest stage at the biggest occasion and at the key moments. We’ll take some lessons out of that, but sometimes you’ve just got to admit that you ran second in the race, and fair play to Australia for all their hard work and their success in the key moments.

Q: Brendon, was there a pivotal moment for you in the game? And secondly, what statement does New Zealand’s performance make to the big three in the world of cricket?
BM: I think it was a pivotal moment. I think the powerplay. Obviously, Ross and Grant had formed a really good partnership out there and got us back in the game, 150 for three after 35 overs, most times in this team would firmly believe that we’re capable of 270-280, if not more. I guess a little bit unlucky for Ross to get out the way he did, and then we saw Australia I guess really bare its teeth and put the hammer down on us. That was probably the pivotal stage. I thought if we were able to get through three or four overs at a decent strike rate we would have been able to launch later on with our bigger hitters coming in with a bit of freedom. The statement made to big three does not motivate us. We’re about making sure that we go out there, play an aggressive and positive brand of cricket, play with the humility with which we’ve played throughout this tournament. We haven’t always been like that, but I feel in this tournament we’ve made significant strides in how we’ve gone about playing the game. I think what we’re trying to achieve as a team, we’ve been able to make some big strides throughout the last couple of weeks. We can hold our heads up really high. We’ve had some tremendous support from back home and from around the world. But we came up here today, 93,000 people, a lot of Kiwis travelled over. We felt the vibe from back home. The support has been outstanding. The guys have been forever grateful of it, and I guess we’ll move on to the next stage in our cricket careers and our lives, but this is something we’ll never, ever forget. It’s been a really proud time to be a New Zealander even though we ran second.

Q: Any regrets, anything you’d change today, or is that just cricket?
BM: I think it’s just cricket. There are couple of things, defining moments if things had have panned out differently, but that’s the game that we play. There’s a winner and then there’s got to be a loser. I guess that’s why the game was created. I guess ultimately you can’t have any regrets in this game. You go out there and try and play as well as you possibly can, and if a team is better than you on the day, then you cop it sweet and you let them enjoy the celebrations.

Q: You’ve lost two major finals to Australia now, the championship in 2009 and this. They’ve won six straight 50-over finals. What do you think sets Australia apart in the big games? Why are they able to win them fairly comfortably every time?
BM: I think that we’ve lost two finals to them, obviously, but this is a different team. The way that we’ve played, the way that we’ve conducted ourselves as people and as cricketers throughout this tournament, we’re a lot different to what we were in the Champions Trophy that we lost, as well. I don’t put a great deal of emphasis on, I guess, losing those two finals. It’s a good thing that we’re making finals for a change. But I think Australia, they stepped up. You know, they have got some experience playing in big occasions, and maybe that was one of the differences, as well. I don’t know. But I think we can’t read too much into it. I think they stepped up on the day. They were better than us, and they’ll be drinking the winning champagne.

Q: There were notable send-offs for several of your players tonight, Martin Guptill, Grant Elliott, Daniel Vettori. Was that much said about that in the dressing room and can you give us your thoughts on the spirit in which tonight’s game was played?
BM: Look, it wasn’t really discussed within the group. A send-off is a send-off. It’s not something we are necessarily concerned about. Again, I think the focus should be on how well Australia played and how much they deserve this victory rather than any of those sort of minor issues on the way through. Yeah, I certainly don’t want to go too deep into that.

Q: Was today a toss you wouldn’t have minded losing given how you chased against South Africa the other night? And secondly, can you put your finger on why Kane and Tim Southee were sent off the board at the business end?
BM: Yeah, look, I thought it was a good toss to win at the time. Michael Clarke also said that he would have batted. The pitch played okay, and I think that was a testament to the partnership we were able to create with Ross and Grant. I guess they were able to swing the ball early on, and that posed a few problems. If we’d have lost the toss and we found ourselves bowling, who knows, they might have got 400 the way they played today, as well. I guess you can’t have those regrets. We won the toss, we took the aggressive option. That was what we wanted to do. I thought runs on the board in the final, and had we got 260-280, then we might have been having a different conversation now. Look, Tim and Kane, they’re outstanding leaders within this group. They’re both young guys that performed really, really well for us over a period of time. The game is the game. Sometimes you miss out, and those guys will be richer for the experience. They’re both champion fellows who play the game in the right spirit. They care a lot about this team, and I support them all the way through, and sometimes you can’t get the runs that you want and you can’t get the wickets that you desire, but they’ve gone about it the right way, and they’re integral parts of this team moving forward.

Q: Probably scant consolation, but there’s that old saying you’ve got to lose win to win one. Do you think that could be something for this team going forward?
BM: Yeah, maybe. I think the team perhaps will change over the next sort of while, but hopefully the style of cricket and the things that we’ve been able to implement with this team and the brand that we’re trying to play will remain and develop over the next while. Hopefully that will then filter down to some of our domestic cricket, as well, and we’ll see some youngsters start to play the game and try and play it the same way that we’ve tried to operate through this World Cup. I guess once you’re in the final, you’ve got yourself an opportunity of winning. If we can keep making finals, then we’ll win one at some point.

Q: Just looking at the year or so before the World Cup, were there moments when you felt that you were on to something special with this team?
BM: Yeah, I do. I do think that we were starting to get there. It took a lot of hard work along the way, and I don’t think we’re the finished product just yet, but we’re certainly heading in the right direction. We’ve got a team full of guys who are selfless, about trying to play for New Zealand. They know that during the time that they’ve got, they want to make an impact, and they’re prepared to buy into team plans and try and play an aggressive style of cricket. We know that that’s our greatest opportunity. Over the last probably 12 to 18 months it’s been a process of filtering that and starting to really crunch down our plans and the personnel that we wanted within the group, and I think we’re starting to get there. I think we’ve made some significant changes, and we’re certainly richer for the experience in terms of our standing in world cricket. We need to keep getting better. We’re not satisfied where we sit at the moment, but the way we’re going is certainly the way to go about it.

Q: When Mitchell Starc is bowling as well as he’s bowling, how tough is it to face?
BM: He was a bit too good for me today, that’s for sure. Yeah, look, he deserves the man of the tournament for me. He was outstanding, bowled at good pace, he swung the ball late, and he was incredibly accurate all the way along, as well. Sometimes in this game, you go in with your best laid plans and your ideal scenario of how you see the game panning out. Sometimes a guy is just too good for you, and that’s the beauty of this game, and that’s why when you do have success you’ve got to enjoy it along the way because it is a contest, and sometimes the other guy is a bit good for you.

Q.: The first over were you tentative, because normally we see a very aggressive Brendon McCullum.
BM: I think I ran down the second ball, didn’t I? I certainly wasn’t tentative. Heads actually asked me before the first ball, he said, are you still going to have a crack today, and I said, too right. I went in with the same mindset. We all went in the same mindset that we’ve played with throughout this tournament. We were just outdone by a better team on the day. Yeah, that’s just sport.

Q: Brendon, I was actually going to ask you about those first three balls. At the MCG it can swing but it only swings for a little while. Had you thought about just waiting to see that period out before you went at it?
BM: I think I tried to block the one I got out on, and that didn’t work too good, either. But we knew that it would swing for a little while, but it swung in New Zealand and we’ve been able to be productive against swing bowling. We’ve manufactured a really good strike rate in those first 10 overs and it’s been a real strength of ours and something that we looked at and factored into our game plan as an essential part of us being able to be as dominant as what we have been throughout our batting displays, as well. You factor all that stuff in. Again, it just comes down to they were too good, and you can’t look too deeply on that. Again, I think it would be doing a disservice to the Australians if I sat up here and started to try and justify what went wrong or what may have been. I think it’s just one of those days where you just let them enjoy the glory.

Q: Yesterday you said that you will continue to play aggressive cricket, the brand of cricket you are playing until the final. So after this loss, will you change your style of playing or will you continue with this?
BM: No, no, you don’t change your style of play. Look, for us to develop into the team that we want to be in international cricket, we have to play like that. I think there’s an element of fearlessness about how we play, which has been an effect on other teams, as well, and I think if you ask most of the teams in this tournament what they think of how we’ve played the game, they would be very respectful of how we’ve gone about it. It’s what gives us our greatest pleasure, as well, and sometimes we’re going to come undone, but for us to compete against the big teams on regular occasions and for us to be able to develop into the team we want to be, we need to keep playing this brand of cricket, and we’ll get better at doing it the more we become accustomed to it, and I guess a stronger depth of players we develop in the same mold of cricket as we have. So yeah, we’re not going to change. I guess one other thing I just did want to say is I looked in the changing room today, and the guys that we’ve had, we’ve been on an incredible journey. We’ve loved every single minute of it. We’ve created memories and friendships which will last for the rest of our lives. We’ve had some support from our country which we never believed was possible. We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to achieve. We ran second today, and all credit to Australia, but we walk away with our heads held high. We had Martin Crowe and John Key, our Prime Minister, in the changing room before, and they were incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to achieve, as well. They’re just a couple of guys we’ve been able to share it with, and I guess we’ve shared this experience with the whole country. It would have been nice to have won it, but I’m sure everyone will be proud of what we’ve been able to achieve.

Courtesy: ICC