Brendon McCullum wasn’t exactly a pioneer when he stepped into the international arena, but he soon found his footing in the limited overs format, adapted it sensationally to the T20 format and carried it in revolutionary fashion into the Test milieu to complete the circle. As he plays his last test match, Cricking looks at five knocks which were as blistering as they were beautiful. Hurricane Brendon hit sporadically, but when he did, he hit hard and was terrifyingly beautiful as any force of nature should be.
The Force Awakens (50* off 25 balls v Australia at Christchurch 2005)
He came in at No. 9 with New Zealand chasing a world record 332 to win and still 75 odd runs adrift with 7 overs to go. What followed was a whirlwind 50 off 25 balls and with Daniel Vettori blazing away from the other end New Zealand sealed a record chase and victory with an over to spare. Just a reminder that this was 2005, and T20 cricket was still a year away.
Owning the stage (158 of 73 balls for Kolkata Knight Riders v Royal Challengers Bangalore 2008)
McCullum quickly adapted to the shortest format of the game that seemed to suit his full frontal assault style (he was always more Rambo with a machine gun than American Sniper) and he decided to advertise that style lighting up the opening night of the Indian Premier League with an innings for the ages. It was a generation defining innings. What it did in terms of raising the IPL’s profile no one will ever be able to precisely measure, but it was just the kind of innings he liked to play – electric to watch and seismic in its impact.
Triple Big Mac (302 v India at Wellington 2014)
His ability to hit the leather off a cricket ball was well established about a decade into his career but there were questions asked of his temperament and style in the longer format of the game. He answered a bunch of those questions through a 775-minute 302 against India bringing New Zealand back from the brink of 94/5 in the second innings and single-handedly saving the test.
Things that make you go boom! (77 of 25 balls v England Wellington 2015)
Tim Southee’s 7/33 had decimated England and pretty much won New Zealand their World Cup 2015 league game against England, but not one to shy away from making a statement Brendon McCullum walked in, walloped 77 off 25 and New Zealand chased down 123 in just 12 odd overs. The psychological impact and its aftermath would see England crash out before the quarters and New Zealand go on to be runners up. McCullum sure had a knack of how to set the tone of things.
The long blitz goodbye (145 v Australia at Christchurch 2016)
How do you sign off in your final test match? Even the greatest of cricketers have fluffed the sign off (Bradman scored a zero, you know) but McCullum’s spirit as he walked in to bat in his last test seemed undaunted whether by the situation (New Zealand were 74/4) or the occasion. He blazed away (“I was trying to hit every ball for a four or six” he would later say) and ended up scoring the fastest ever test ton (54 balls) going past Viv Richards and Misbah Ul Haq’s joint record and resurrecting New Zealand’s innings and series in the process. Just another day in the office for BMac.
How apt that the genre defining innings that began it all was at Christchurch against the Aussies and so will be the genre bending one that he will likely sign off with.