Brendon McCullum may go down as New Zealand’s greatest ever cricket captain, and his only glaring omission will be not taking the Blackcaps to World Cup glory in 2015. On a hot day at the end of March in Melbourne, the courageous Blackcaps captain was dismissed in just three balls, and it would go onto become the moment that swayed the World Cup out of New Zealand’s grasp.
Brendon McCullum’s World Cup Greatness
From January through until the end of March, the entire nation of New Zealand was in a state of excitement. The media called it ‘cricket fever’, and despite falling short in their inaugural World Cup final, Brendon McCullum will look back at those few months as the greatest of his career.
When he returned to the role of opening the batting, the Kiwis’ style was always going to be aggressive. It was almost forgotten at the time, but no one questioned the fact that Blackcaps coach Mike Hesson didn’t change the squad throughout the tournament because it was the best side on the park that was going from strength to strength.
McCullum had the freedom to be aggressive at the top of the order because the batsmen who followed him had the ability not only to build an innings together quickly, but also to keep the run rate ticking over and find boundaries on a regular basis.
Many will look back at the Blackcaps’ 2015 World Cup campaign with slight disappointment. They came so close and to get blown off the park in the final was a surprise to many, but Australia were deserving winners on the day — no question.
From the first ball McCullum faced at World Cup 2015 he looked comfortable in aggression, almost careless in protecting his wicket, and with trust that his middle order could pick up the pieces if he made a mistake and put the Blackcaps a man down early in the innings. He became New Zealand’s cricketing version of the great Richie McCaw — the most successful All Blacks player in history.
In the semi-final, McCullum smashed one of the quickest half centuries in World Cup history, batting Dale Steyn out of the attack, and creating a launch pad for his side to chase down close to 300 in a shortened innings. Without his innings New Zealand would have fallen well short, and to this day McCullum remains one of the few batsmen to have taken Steyn, arguably the best bowler in the world, to the cleaners.
A lot was made about McCullum’s batting performance in the aftermath of the defeat in the final. He faced just three balls, but from the off looked a shadow of his former self which he had presented all throughout the World Cup. Lucky not to be dismissed facing his first delivery, McCullum then tried some nifty footwork to clip the ball to the boundary, before being clean bowled by Mitch Starc next ball. As cricket commentator Ian Smith said, the wicket of McCullum saw New Zealand brought to its knees.
There were many great moments at Cricket World Cup 2015, and Brendon McCullum’s batting master class is right at the top of that list, and unquestionably, very rightly so.