McCullum: 'We want our team to be a representation of our country'

Former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum, credited with forging the national team's reputation of being cricket’s nice guys, talks about 10 years of IPL, his new home RCB and Kiwi cricket among other things.

Brendon McCullum stands at the boundary’s edge at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, casting his mind back to the inaugural game of the Indian Premier League (IPL). It is nearly 10 years to the day he helped usher in the world’s richest, shiniest cricket tournament at this very ground with a hailstorm of sixes and an innings no one is likely to forget.

“It’s gone so fast, it is hard to imagine it was 10 years ago,” he says. “We didn't know what was going to happen and how the tournament was going to unfold. That 158 (for KKR vs. RCB) — it’s not normal to do that. For the first few years, it took me a while to deal with the expectation of that — not just from other people but myself as well — and to realise that that was one of those days that does not come around very often.”

McCullum has been a part of the IPL every one of these 11 editions, but his approach to batting has changed little. His role at RCB, his fifth IPL side, is simply to “get after the bowling in the first six overs,” something he has always done.

Good relationship

But McCullum is also a leader in the field, the sort of figure RCB needed to support the captain. “Virat (Kohli) and I, our relationship is very good. The first thing I did when I arrived was speak to him. I said, ‘I'll throw a whole lot of ideas at you. You don’t feel like you have to use any of them.’ But myself and AB and Quinton (de Kock), who is a very astute thinker of the game, we'll give him ideas.”

McCullum understands rather well that being a leader is hard work. He captained New Zealand for five years. “My style of leadership was quite consuming,” he says. “It was sort of, ‘Let's go after everything’. Kane (Williamson) has taken the team to a more consistent level.”

‘Authentic’ demeanour

What will be remembered, though, is that McCullum helped forge the modern New Zealand team’s reputation of being cricket’s nice guys. “I'm certainly not righteous about it,” he says. “Early on in my career I was definitely...[different]. I’m very fortunate I had longevity so I was able to come out the other side and actually realise that we're all trying to do the same thing on the field. Both teams are trying to win. But you can actually act in a decent manner as well. We want our team to be a representation of our country...which is [a country of] humble, hard-working people. That’s what we tried to replicate in New Zealand. And we had a lot of fun doing it.”

It is a style of play that is being hailed as the model for all cricket teams after the events of Cape Town, but this approval is not something McCullum has ever sought. “I'm not after any vindication,” he says. “From our point of view that was what was authentic to us. If you try and be like that and that is actually not what you’re like as people then it’s going to come crashing down.”

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