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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
'Watling's ton a testament of his character' - McCullum
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.
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.
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