New Zealand v India, 2nd Test, Wellington, 5th day

'I feel a little bit embarrassed'

Brendon McCullum, who became the first New Zealand batsman to make a Test triple-hundred, reflects on the historic innings during his post-match presser

Abhishek Purohit in Wellington

February 18, 2014

Comments: 55 | Text size: A | A
'Watling's ton a testament of his character' - McCullum


Brendon McCullum became the first New Zealand batsman to score a triple-century, New Zealand v India, 2nd Test, Wellington, 5th day, February 18, 2014
'There was no tear in my eye. I am from South Dunedin.' © AFP
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Talk about that dream run. What was that?

It was what was required. That is what it was. We were obviously scrapping to save the Test and therefore win the series. We managed to get some partnerships under pressure and then kept batting and batting and batting. So yeah it was pretty satisfying to get us out of trouble and claim the series win.

How big was it for New Zealand to have somebody in the 300 club and for you to get there in these circumstances?

Without being disrespectful I probably didn't know the magnitude of it until the last 24 hours. I grew up and watched the New Zealand cricket team for years on end. I saw Martin Crowe score his 299 and thought it would have been an amazing feat if he scored 300 but probably didn't quite understand how much it meant to the whole country who support this team and the media and support that has started to gain momentum last night and this morning with everyone willing a New Zealander to finally break that 300 barrier. And Martin as well. His thoughts on it too.

I saw him this morning on the breakfast show and he was discussing how significant it would be. I guess that was one of the things that made me realise how big a moment it was. I also spoke to Stephen Fleming last night and he also said the same thing and those are the two guys who sat at 1 and 2 on the table. I feel a little bit embarrassed because I'm not anywhere near the calibre of players that those two in particular are but I think in terms of New Zealand cricket and moving forward for this team, we have finally broken that 300 barrier and hopefully some of these guys in the years to come will continue to break that barrier.

Martin Crowe had said in an interview long ago that he got a little ahead of himself on 299 and started to think about what will happen and the adulation. Did you at any point during those last 19 runs get ahead of yourself?

I definitely wanted to get 300 so I guess I was thinking in front of myself. That was one thing I tried to do this summer is just play that moment and worry about that ball. If you get beaten or if you play a good shot you don't get too high or too low, you move onto the next one and try and get though that simple sequence. After the first couple of runs today when I started feeling a little bit nervous which isn't always normal, one of the things I had to tell myself was get back to the simple things that work and give the ball as much respect as it deserves.

How were you feeling this morning when you got up and walked through the gate to go out? Were there nerves or were you feeling good?

I wasn't too bad till I saw the size of the crowd. Every ball that I defended, left or got a single they would start cheering and it made me a little bit more nervous to be honest. That's probably when I understood the magnitude of the task and how much joy it gives fans of this cricket team to see guys succeed and see records broken. It was the moment when 300 came up and the applause was ongoing for quite a while is really when it hit home to me that it was quite a significant achievement for a New Zealander and one I'll certainly remember for the rest of my life.

 
 
I saw Martin Crowe score his 299 and thought it would have been an amazing feat if he scored 300 but probably didn't quite understand how much it meant to the whole country who support this team
 

Can you talk us through the emotions you experienced?

I have never experienced anything like that. That's something I'll hold onto for the rest of my life. All the tough times and tough periods you go through when you're out of form at times and you're just trying to keep the faith in what you're trying to achieve. You just know there are plenty of good people out there who are backing you as well. At that moment I guess I realised how much satisfaction you can bring people from the way you achieve stuff and that certainly gave me a lot of good feelings.

How did you channel your emotions through that entire experience?

Sometimes good and sometimes not so good. Thankfully I had partners at the other end who played some brilliant innings. I thought both BJ (Watling) and (James Neesham) Neesh, their innings were outstanding. BJ's in particular because he came in when were five for 90 (odd) and coming off a duck as well. To play an innings like that is testament to how strong a character he is. Then Neesh in his first Test match with the game still reasonably poised, to come out and play his natural game, which is aggressive, takes a lot of courage so I was pretty lucky to have those guys there.

Then I had to try and fight the emotion that I want to hit the ball a bit harder than what I was trying to and make sure that the team goal was first and foremost.

Were there tears in your eyes?

No tear in the eye. I'm from South Dunedin.

There were a few doubts about your back. How did you get through this Test series physically?

I don't know really. The back situation is just going to be there for the rest of my career and there will be times when it flares up and it becomes pretty tough to handle. I've got to make sure along with the coaching and support staff that we manage my workload and manage my training regime as well to ensure that I can go out there and perform without it being too much of a hindrance.

There were times during the summer that it wasn't as good as what it should be but it was a major step in the right direction from Bangladesh where it was pretty bad and brought some dark thoughts. Things are feeling okay at the moment so we'll have to wait and see what the next few months involve.


Brendon McCullum gestures to the crowd after the Test, New Zealand v India, 2nd Test, Wellington, 5th day, February 18, 2014
'Every ball that I defended, left or got a single the crowd would start cheering and it made me a little bit more nervous to be honest' © Getty Images
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How much do you think the captaincy has contributed to this change in batting approach?

You want to lead from the front as captain and I haven't always done that. That's what the desire is and I hope that's what I'm starting to do. The hardest time to captain the team is when you're not scoring runs and that's when your character and the kind of person and leader you are outweighs your own form. The team needs the captain to be a strong person who enjoys other people's success and sees the bigger picture. That's what I tried to do when I wasn't scoring many runs, knowing that if I kept working hard and kept the faith in my own game that at some point I'd be able to score those runs and then that makes leading a whole lot easier.

What did you do last night? Relaxed? Beer with dad?

I did go for a beer with my old man. He was up and booked his flight for a month late which everyone says was a bit silly, I just think he's' quite cunning. Just caught up with him for a beer and tried to keep it as relaxed and as normal a procedure as possible.

Did you have any superstitions going on over the last three days? Wearing the same pair of socks or anything like that?

No, I'm not really a superstitious person. The only thing I wanted was to keep using the same bat and I kept ripping the grip on it so I had to keep putting tape on it, which was a bit comical. No real superstitions. It was just trying to staying in the moment and keep willing yourself through.

There was probably a period late on that first day when we started batting in the second innings when I was pretty fatigued and then once you break through that I found you were able to break sessions down into drinks breaks or bowlers' spells as well. And probably the first Test match helped me with that too. Obviously being able to bat for a period of time and get a decent score there gave me the confidence where you could push thorough that time when you're fatigued and you'd get a second wind at the end of it.

What's going to happen to that bat? Are you going to keep using it or put it somewhere?

I'm not sure. It will go in the cupboard for a little while since we're off to T20 cricket. That will bring out one of my old favourites which has a few more dents around the edges and can handle a bit more of the swashbuckling swings.

Did you consciously make any technical or mental changes? You were struggling in the one-dayers and suddenly you found the confidence in the Tests.

One-dayers are circumstantial and the team required us guys in the middle to lower order, after the foundations we had, to come out and try and play the shots to continue to up the run rates. That's a little bit circumstantial and the situation of the team far outweighs your own personal agendas at the time. I wasn't too unhappy about my form after the one-dayers because we won 4-0 and that's what you play for.

Leading into the Test series, I worked pretty hard, well, I have worked pretty hard through my whole career. But leading into this summer I put a lot of emphasis on my Test game and defence and trying to ensure that I'm trying to defend straight and I know where my off stump is. If you trust that then the shots you try to play are a lot more effective than trying to go to attack as your first form of defence. Because you don't trust that. Those are some of the changes I have tried to make. It doesn't always work as we saw in the first innings here. I still play the odd rash shot but it is nice when it does come off to get the success of doing so.

How are you going to celebrate?

I'm going to have a quiet beer with my team-mates. Just catch up with the boys once all the formalities are taken care of and pledge up in the change room and just reflect on a season that's been pretty important for us and the game in New Zealand.

How about a bottle of wine for Kohli (who dropped him on 9)?

I'm not sure what sort of wine he drinks but he probably got his little bit of karma back this afternoon (when he was given not out by umpire Steve Davis after nicking behind). I very much appreciated him putting that one down but thankfully I didn't offer too many chances after that.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Aashiyer on (February 20, 2014, 20:54 GMT)

Good job McCullum. I am an Indian fan so I am sad that we had a huge lead and still only drew the game. Kohli and Dhawan both dropped him or we would have won. I will just look for the IPL.

Posted by donbanda on (February 20, 2014, 1:25 GMT)

As a Srilankan supporter now living in NZ I was at the Basin 24 years ago when Crowe missed getting to 300 by just one run against Srilanka. Last Tuesday I was again at the Basin, the best cricket ground in the world, to watch one of the greatest test innings. What atmosphere, what joy. Never will I forget this. Bravo McCullum.

Posted by KiwiPom on (February 19, 2014, 22:42 GMT)

Let's be quite clear about this. McCullum's decision not to declare overnight was not for personal reasons. He probably did consider declaring but others will have had a view which prevailed. An NZer putting 300 on the board in a test innings for the first time is a landmark not specifically owned by Brendon McCullum. It is owned by the tradition of NZ test cricket. It is owned by the tradition of test cricket as a whole - it needed an NZer on that list, and it is owned by the nation. Actually winning the game - especially given the series standing - was something of far lesser importance. Look at the queues to get in on that last morning. I think McCullum would have been in danger of being lynched had he declared overnight :) I've asked myself on a number of occasions if I'd have said the same thing if we were 1-0 down rather than 1-0 up in the series. My answer to that is McCullum would have gone for the 300 on the previous evening and lived or died in the attempt.

Posted by bdsmaruf on (February 19, 2014, 16:48 GMT)

probably the most polite captain of the world at this moment

Posted by MianNasir on (February 19, 2014, 13:45 GMT)

Great fighting spirit, he stole the show big time, I am Pakistani but i love NZ team batting. It was pleasure to watch McCullum's performance.

Posted by nicevans on (February 19, 2014, 9:47 GMT)

Arguably the best innings by a Nz batsman ever - fantastic!

People who criticise him for not declaring over night simply have no idea, 325 was never a safe option.

@Ms cricket.. bmac is our best captain since fleming, and this team is unified with him, he was a big part as to why we won this series. Thankfully you are in the vast minority with your opinion

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 4:38 GMT)

People call it what you want gr8 innings or not, as a Captain he just wanted save the Test and so got to that point. Indians were Gentlemanly or Stupid, cant say which, but if I were captain I would have banged him till he got out, long before he got to 200, since he had the back problem and was getting treatment on the ground again and again.This is what I wrote, here at ESPNCRicinfo, on 18th. FEb. morning "Why is he undecided about the out come of the Game, NZ are going to win it. Just take scenario 1. If they declare after Brendon scores his triple hundred India have to scores 400 + in the day and its not going to be easy. They lose 0ne or two wickets, thanks to Umpiring decisions not NZ bowlers , then India tries to save the match....." .And exactly that is what happened to Shikhar Dhawan, Umpiring decision, if he had been at the crease India would not have lost any wickets, his wicket kind of became a morale booster for NZ team and got another wicket and another...

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 3:14 GMT)

Great achievement, but you're putting an individual's achievement ahead of the needs of the team. If I were captain, I would of declared early on the 5th day, to get a rare win / whitewash for NZ cricket. Anyway good on you Brendan, you deserve the adolation.

Posted by crickketlover on (February 19, 2014, 2:08 GMT)

Great cricketer and greater human being. The world needs more cricketers like Brendon. Congratulations on this superb display of batting skills and captaincy.

Posted by KPWij on (February 19, 2014, 0:48 GMT)

I am an Aussie fan who has always had a soft spot for NZ and all the fantastic cricketers they have produced. Cairns, Fleming, Astle, Harris, Nash to name a few and Brendon McCullum may not have teared up but I certainly did. I unfortunately missed seeing the event live but when I got home from work I caught a replay, the atmosphere at a ground on a Tuesday in a country with 4.4 milion people was something that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. And McCullum has been such a fantastic ambassador for cricketers around the world making the achievement a great reward for a hard-working, tough and one of the most committed players in international cricket. Though his statistics don't highlight his importance, McCullum has been a guardian of cricket in NZ across the last 5 years much like the old guys I mentioned at the top of the comment. That match showed us again why cricket, in particular test cricket is such a beautiful game. Congratulations B. McCullum!

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