In 2014 you smashed a record-breaking hundred almost out of nowhere. How did it change life for you? Has there been a weight of expectation that has been difficult to live up to since?
Yeah, definitely did [change my life]. I think that game in particular changed a lot of things. It put me on the map of world cricket and people were asking who I was. I guess it probably got me into the IPL. The experience of the IPL itself is unique and one that a lot of people don't get to experience. That changed the course of my career massively, but at the same time the expectations thrust upon me was one of those ones where I think people were wanting to see me doing that every time. And I felt like I was obliged to try and do it as well. It can almost be a bit more of a burden than a blessing.
So, over time, talking to guys who have been in similar situations, to get their thoughts on it is always nice. Obviously AB [de Villiers] did [break the record] a year later and he's a quality player to take the mantle. It may not happen ever again for me, but it is one of those days I will obviously never forget. But I have got to make sure Corey as a cricketer can still move forward and progress my game instead of trying to please people I don't necessarily need to please, if I may say so.
So a hard-fought 50 off 80 balls on a seaming track would please you a lot more these days?
Yeah, I think it does. It depends on the situation. If you can win games for your country, your association or your franchise, the feeling of respect that you gain from other players is much more rewarding than personal accolades or milestones.
What is the role that Kane Williamson and Mike Hesson envisage for you within the team? Is it that of a middle-order destroyer or a floater?
I guess it's a little bit of… I haven't been given a license. It's been more trying to adapt to the situation. I have been touted as a player who likes to hit the ball hard and tries to hit boundaries. I think I can also hit cricket shots and do a job in the middle to try and steer the ship a little bit.
"I have been touted as a player who likes to hit the ball hard and tries to hit boundaries. I think I can also hit cricket shots and do a job in the middle"
Like in the semi-final of the 2015 World Cup?
Yeah, a little bit like that. I have still to make sure that I can do those things, and make sure I can have the respect and trust of the team that I can guide us through into a position of strength. I don't want to be a pigeonholed player, and [it's about] trying to adapt my game. They have always given me confidence to be able to express myself, but at the same time be able to have the freedom to assess the situation.
But then you play a knock like the one against Bangladesh, where you smashed a 41-ball 94. Does that come more naturally to you?
I think so. Once you get into one of those hit spaces where you can let go and express yourself, there is always that time that's more near the end of the innings where getting out doesn't really come into your mind. It is not a fear. You kind of want to just get as many runs as you can and as quick as possible because you know the team total is going to build up.
Once you get into that position, you've kind of earned the right to do those things, and it's obviously pleasing to contribute in those kind of ways. You know it isn't always going to happen, but when you look back, those are sometimes innings that can change a game. Those are always the ones you look back on and enjoy the most. But yeah, it is not going to happen all the time, but you try hard to do as well as you can.
Regardless of who has been captain, New Zealand has always come across as a calm and stable unit. Is it just the impression we get on the outside, or is it as calm as it looks?
It's always calm on the inside as well. We have always been the type not to get too high after our wins or too low after our losses. We realise that cricket is a funny game, and good things happen and bad things happen. Brendon [McCullum] has been the main one to thrust upon us that we've just got to enjoy our cricket.
As kids, you don't have any pressure on you when you are playing cricket, when you play in the backyard or the street or at school or wherever it is, and you play for the love of the game. I think we can get a little bit lost when there is money involved and pressure involved and it becomes a job. We have tried to take that out of it and just enjoy it. We are lucky to be playing what we are playing and it's a time of our lives we won't forget. We've just got to enjoy and lap it up as much as we can while we are doing that. Having that mindset can really make it a lot more enjoyable even in the down times.
Can you recall an instance where McCullum or Hesson said something that freed you up completely and you went out there all guns blazing?
Several times you have those conversations, and I think it's more just not having that fear of failure. The thing that can get us in most trouble is the fearfulness or hoping that we do well. With someone just telling us "Hey, we have the freedom to play how we want to play", that takes the weight off your shoulders. At the end of the day, you are trying to do well for not only yourself but the team too. At the end of the day, if everyone is pushing in the same direction, then good things are going to come.
Have you ever been afraid of being dropped?
There is always that little bit [of fear] in the back of your mind, but the more you think about it, the more tense you get and the more you start failing. When you have pressure, I don't think you want to push back too hard. You have got to absorb it, take it in your stride and just enjoy those moments that you are in.
You got shoulder and groin surgery when you were very young. Then a finger injury and a troublesome back recently. How frustrating are these injuries?
Yeah, frustrating is probably an understatement, to be fair (smiles). Injuries are part and parcel of cricket and any sport, for that matter. Yeah, it takes its toll on you. After a period of time, you have got to probably sit back and have a look and see what the things you value in life are. I guess the thing I have learnt from it all is: this is a period of my life and my career that I want to do as much as I can - play and get on the park. But at the same time, it will be a little part of my life. For cricketers as well, our lives probably don't begin until we finish cricket, so it gave me a perspective of what things are important, what things I have to prioritise as well.
"New Zealand have always been the type not to get too high after our wins or too low after our losses. We realise that cricket is a funny game"
You were born with 95% deafness in your left ear. Has that made you rueful about fate?
Yes and no. Sometimes not being able to hear all that well is a bit of blessing. Probably more selective hearing than anything (smiles). It's one of those things in life that you are born with and take in your stride. Yeah, there are times when injuries come about, you sort of think, "Why do I seem to get the bad end of the deal?" But I think everyone has got their ups and downs. We don't always know what other people are feeling in life as well. Just because they look like they're happy, it may not mean they are on the inside. We've got to be sure in our judgements that we make about people, and realise what they might have been through and the upbringing they have had and things like that.
Was there anyone you saw go through something that made you appreciate better the brighter side of life?
Not particularly, but you look in your own backyard, at players who have had injuries. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Shane Bond when he was around with the New Zealand cricket team, and he's obviously been bowling coach at Mumbai [Indians]. So he's always a great man to call or talk to. He's been through a lot of injuries and has come back several times and done well. So talking to him about the ups and downs of that - he's probably given me that sort of perspective, that you work hard to come back, and although you do the right things, sometimes it doesn't work in your favour. And to make sure that if your head is in the right place, something good will eventually come of it.
How hard was it shedding 20kg when you moved from Canterbury to Northern Districts?
(laughs) Yeah, tough. To be fair, it wasn't a goal to try and lose that much weight. It kind of just kept snowballing and I got in a position where I was probably almost too light and didn't have enough power. So I had to probably equal it out over a period of time, but it was a huge help to change associations at that point of time. Obviously I have had a few injuries along the way, but I have loved my cricket since then. I loved it before that as well, but it was nice to just have a fresh start and a new outlook.
Were you prepared for how your life changed when you became the youngest first-class cricketer from New Zealand?
Not really. At that stage I was still thinking cricket's just a game. [I had] just come out of high school and sort of thinking, this is pretty cool. And you start thinking of all the people that, if you have to make it, you have got to pass them. It becomes pretty daunting.
Probably being away from home [was the hardest part]. You wake up every day and go to school and you might go on a trip for a weekend somewhere and stay away from Mum and Dad, and all of a sudden, to go away for a month or two months at a time is a hard pill to swallow. It teaches you to grow up pretty fast as well. At 16 you are having guys [around you] having families at home and kids - that's a pretty scary thought. And to have coaches and management who have kids my age as well at home. They are probably thinking, "How do I treat him? Do I treat him like I treat my son at home?"
I think it's just adjusting, and that was a hard thing to go through, but I was looked after extremely well with the teams I was in. Some of the things you don't think you'd sign up for, with the media, travel and being away from home, but after a period of time you embrace it and then it becomes this massive, massive part of life.
It's obviously a job now that people can play well for a long period of time and can do really well financially, and for the benefit of their careers and life in general. And the people you meet as well. Those are the things I will probably take with me once it's all said and done - the friendships you make and the people you meet.
What helps you rekindle your enjoyment for the game?
I think not getting too stressed about it. Everyone has a dream as a kid to play rugby for the All Blacks or play [cricket] for the Black Caps. Those aspirations always stay strong, but as you get into certain ages, those goals slightly change. As you get older… I am still young, but friends I started playing cricket with are starting to have families and moving on past the game.
"You don't want to look too far ahead, but taking your mind off cricket completely can also help you with your cricket"
That's also an area of life I am looking forward to, you know - possibly having kids one day, settling down, and I guess finding a job outside of cricket. Although it's kind of scary, it's also exciting. You don't want to look too far ahead, but taking your mind off cricket completely can also help you with your cricket. At the end of the day, whether you get runs or not, it will probably be forgotten about pretty quickly. And when I retire I will probably be forgotten pretty quickly as well. It's not making a big deal of the little things, and just enjoying everything as it comes, whether it's on the field or off the field.
What job outside cricket do you fancy yourself doing? You are a good sketch artist, aren't you?
Yeah, I like art. I like design and houses and building, something along the lines of design or interior design. Architecture will be tough to do, but something along with houses or anything to do with design will probably be a nice thing to transition into.
What was your childhood like, growing up in a sporting household?
Mum was a netballer. She is very short, so it's probably the wrong game for her to play. Dad played rugby and did athletics. Obviously both of them being lovers of sport has helped me as well. My whole family is sport-oriented and is always watching sport on TV. In some ways, [I was always] probably going to fall down that avenue.
What are the things which instantly restore your innocence and take you back to your childhood?
When you have your family around, you have those memories of running around the backyard or having people around you all the time. It gives you those little bits of your childhood and you feel sort of safe. A massive part of my life is always keeping my family close. I have to live with them for the rest of my life, so obviously glad I have got a beautiful family and people who care about me. Just going out for dinner or doing the little things like catching up with people and finding out what they have been doing is always the most exciting part when you get home.