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They don't make too many like Brendon McCullum

When Brendon McCullum decided to hang up his boots, it was with quite a lot of regret that cricket fans accepted his decision.

Written by Jaideep Ghosh | New Delhi |
February 25, 2016 5:58:56 pm
Brendon McCullum, Brendon McCullum retires, Brendon McCullum retirement, McCullum retires, McCullum retirement, Aus vs NZ, NZ vs AUs, Cricket News, Cricket In his last Test, Brendon McCullum smashed the fast Test hundred. (Source: AP)

When we begin stacking up our stars in all fields of sport, arguments are rife. Some think Lionel Messi is the best ever, others swear by Cristiano Ronaldo. Others still would try to convince you that Ronaldinho is the ultimate player.

In cricket too, the arguments are varied. Many say there never will be another like Sachin Tendulkar, others think Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis, Kumar Sangakkara, the list is endless.

But if they were asked to list their top five favourite players to watch, I’m sure Brendon McCullum would make at least 80% of those lists easily.

They don’t make too many like Baz. The man may not always have been the most consistent, nor necessarily a match-winner for New Zealand at all times, but there would be many who would travel miles to see him bat.

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So when he decided to hang up his boots, it was with quite a lot of regret that cricket fans accepted his decision. Well, it was too good to last, they all agreed grudgingly.

None of them had bargained for one last hurrah, and a goodbye to remember.

So when New Zealand took on Australia in the second Test of their series, at Christchurch, it was business as usual.

All would line up when Baz came in to bat, and congratulate him when he got out, or the match ended.

McCullum, on his part, did what he does best. He shed the thoughts of what lies beyond and focussed on the ball.

Then he began hitting it, and he kept hitting it to all parts and beyond. Till he reached a Test century off just 54 deliveries.

Did he go in thinking that he would do something remarkable? Doubtful.

What he did was what he is good at – taking a good look at the ball and then use those mighty forearms and wrists to send it flying.

The simplest way to play cricket, and the most effective.

Many ‘great’ players have over-thought their retirements, in terms of strategy, marketing gimmicks or plain emotional dramas. But McCullum did what he does best, and how!

Baz wasn’t always a winner. Many a times, he would fail, falling way short of expectations. But he never gave up his way, to be aggressive and play the shots, irrespective of the platform.

So he was a delight most of the time but frustrating at others, which also explains his erratic statistics. But tell me, which McCullum would you like to see, the one who retired, or a doddering, stodgy scrounger of runs?

McCullum’s retirement also marks the end of an era, by my reckoning. Ranging from the likes of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, Kallis, Mahela Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Virender Sehwag, Mitchell Johnson and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, this was a generation of giants.

There will be others too, but McCullum and party possibly punctuates the defined change of cricket from an art to an aggression.

It also brings us to the interesting little thought. Given that there is a series on for veterans already in the United Arab Emirates, it could well be a very interesting little addition to their ranks as well.

Cricket is getting quite interesting, isn’t it? Right from kids to 50-somethings can now play for money. Very promising indeed. All we now need is a geriatric series.

Green is mean: Remember that pitch in Pune, where a scratch Sri Lankan pace attack tore the Indian batting to shreds? Well, it’s back in news.

Possibly not quite the same pitch, but the square nevertheless. Mumbai took on Saurashtra as the Ranji Trophy final began and it looked something akin to Perth of the good old days.

As expected Saurashtra struggled. A green top isn’t quite a favourite for Indians and they made the Mumbai bowlers, good that they are, look like world beaters for most of the day.

Cut to Dhaka, and India too were seeing red (read green) when they went in for the first Asia Cup match with Bangladesh.

For a while, it looked like the Pune nightmare would be re-enacted, both at domestic and international level, but as it turned out, it wasn’t such a disaster as we anticipated.

Saurashtra are still alive, though for how long, we’ll only know on Thursday.

India, on the other hand, capitalised on fielding profligacy and the Bangladesh fast losing their heads, line and length to score enough runs to make the hosts frantic.

Also, a green pitch can work both ways. A 20-over contest isn’t enough to settle down any track, so when Ashish

Nehra came in to bowl, the green stuff scared the home batsmen enough for them to try and hit their way out.
The result was a facile 46-run win for the visitors.

But it always leaves a little tinge, this green stuff, doesn’t it. A little iffy thought process, which makes watching India bat quite entertaining exercise. Frustrating if you’re a fan, but quite something that every hack worth his salt would look forward to.

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