Brendon McCullum has been credited with defining how New Zealand play their cricket, but the former captain hailed the role of Kane Williamson in bringing consistency and direction to the side.
“My style of leadership, when I was leading New Zealand, was quite consuming. It is, sort of, to go after everything. I think Kane was preparing to take the team to a more consistent level and he has done that,” said McCullum.
Following the ball-tampering scandal, New Zealand’s brand of cricket – attacking and attractive, but played in good spirit – was held up as one more teams should aim for. Williamson, who led the side to a historic Test series win at home against England, had stressed on the influence of McCullum in establishing the team culture.
The former skipper was pleased with where playing in “a decent manner” had taken the team. “They [New Zealand players] are not just very, very good cricketers, they are fantastic people as well,” he said. “That is something that the country is very proud of – how those guys hold themselves as people.
“The brand of New Zealand cricket is now starting to build up pretty strongly, not just in New Zealand but around the world. [It has reached this stage] on the back of good performances, but also good people.”
In the two years since retiring from international cricket, McCullum has played in T20 leagues all over the world, enjoying the experience of varied cultures and fostering lasting friendships. Now playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, he became only the second player to reach the milestone of 9000 T20 runs.
Playing alongside two other successful international captains in Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, McCullum feels a responsibility as a leader in the team as well, and is happy to share his experience with the team.
“The first thing we did is I spoke to [Kohli] when I arrived. I said I’ll throw a whole lot of ideas at you. You don’t feel like you’ve to use any of them.
“But I hope he feels confident that he knows that myself and AB and Quinton [de Kock] as well, who is a very astute thinker of the game, we’ll give him ideas and his prerogative is to be able to use the ones he wants to and make the decisions.”
As Bangalore prepare to play their first home game of the season, it isn’t lost on McCullum that he will be turning out for the same team against whom 10 years ago he set the tone for the league and changed the landscape of T20 batting with a blistering unbeaten 158.
“I think that 158, it is not normal to do that kind of thing. The first few years it took me a while to deal with the expectations because it. Not just from other people, but myself as well,” he said.
“Once you realise it is one of those days which does not come around very often, you bank the experience and the good feeling from it. You can’t hold yourself to expect that that’s what you are going to do each time you go out there.”