McCullum: 'Took me a couple of years to get over 158'

On the ninth anniversary of the first IPL game, where the Kiwi smashed a 73-ball 158 not out for KKR against RCB, Brendon McCullum looks back at the innings that changed his life.

Brendon McCullum started the IPL with a world-record T20 ton.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

The Indian Premier League’s inaugural game on this day in 2008 was in itself a historic occasion for world cricket.

Brendon McCullum made it more memorable. The New Zealand batsman-wicketkeeper smashed a 73-ball 158 not out for Kolkata Knight Riders against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M. Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore.

McCullum delves into how the innings changed his life and his take on the IPL’s decade-long journey.

Excerpts:

How much did your life change after April 18, 2008?

Huge. Ten years ago, I was 25 years of age. Very much trying to cut my teeth in the international circuit. Even though I had been around for five years, I never really had a splash as such. I promised a little bit but never actually delivered anything. I guess that was the first breakout innings where people actually sort of stood up and took notice. Ever since then, it has been amazing. It’s been phenomenal. My profile in India has been really strong.

How did you cope with the fame that followed the innings?

To be honest, it took me a couple of years to get over that. Just the level of expectation, just to turn up and perform like that every time. That was once or twice of a kind of innings in lifetime, especially when you consider the timing of it as well. It has been phenomenal. I love coming to India. It is completely different to New Zealand. The passion with which people follow the game and how they love you. You would love to attend to every single one — people want autographs, photos — that’s not possible as well. But I have got my family here for 10 years as well. They have had a pretty good time as well.

How has IPL evolved over the last 10 years?

It’s been incredible. The first year or two was very much a really glitzy, glamorous crossover of Bollywood and cricket. And then, it’s become a very, very serious business now. It would be interesting to see what happens from here on. End of the 10 years, what happens next year in terms of retaining the players, the teams coming back and where the competition goes. If you look back, it’s been a phenomenal tournament and what it’s done is it’s opened the eyes of every other country around the world, which is why you see a lot of these leagues around the world. One thing we should embrace the fact that it’s potentially creating a global game not just for representing country but representing franchise around the world as well. It’s pretty cool. The crowds still keep coming in, so everyone must still love it.

How would you sum up the four IPL set-ups you have been involved with?

Kolkata and Chennai were great experiences. I had five years at Kolkata, they gave me my first opportunity. They were fantastic. Excellent owners. A real glitzy, glamorous owners as well. I still have a lot of friends over there. I am still involved with them through TKR (Trinbago Knight Riders), which is great. That’s a great relationship which is now decade-long.

Chennai was incredible couple of years. The way they cared for every single person, not just the playing squad but the support staff — whether (it was) the bag man or M. S. Dhoni it didn’t matter. They are all part of the CSK family. And we were obviously a very good cricket team as well.

Kochi Tuskers — was frustrating. We were in and out for just a year. We had the makings of a good cricket team but it just never worked.

This franchise, we have got a very good mix of cricketers. It will be interesting to see what happens.