Brendon McCullum has his own way of doing things. The man who wields the bat in the shorter versions of the game with the panache of a matador is ready to reinvent himself by opting to become a specialist Test batsman.
He has handed over the wicketkeeper’s gloves to Gareth Hopkins in Tests because of a bad knee, but he isn’t surrendering the matador’s red cape yet.
McCullum’s role will change, not his style. “I am a naturally aggressive player who likes to counterattack.
“I have been guilty of reining myself in sometimes in the past and have decided to stick to my style. If it doesn’t come off, it doesn’t come off.” How the ploy works against a versatile Indian attack is to be seen.
For the moment, though, McCullum is engrossed with the thought of how openers with unconventional approach have dominated world cricket.
“There are many success stories like Matthew Hayden, Virender Sehwag, Sanath Jayasuriya.
“They have had a huge impact in Test matches won by their teams,” said the man amid talks that he would figure in the top three in this New Zealand batting order.
Isn’t he aware that he will be put to a stern test by the Indian bowlers?
“There is no doubt that it doesn’t get bigger than this…This is what cricket is all about, facing India in India. It can be a career-defining series. My preparation has been different this time and the challenge is to not make things too complicated,” said McCullum.
“This is the biggest challenge for me as a Test batsman. Youthful enthusiasm saw me do a few things in past but I am 29 now and things look different as you grow older. I hope to contribute with the bat and help New Zealand win more Tests,” said the player, who scored 579 runs at 57.90 in six Tests in 2009-10 with two hundreds and three fifties.
The man out to make his mark in Test cricket draws inspiration from one of his famous T20 deeds, the 73-ball 158, which got the Indian Premier League off to an unforgettable start in 2008.
“It changed my profile in India and opened up a few roads. I keep recalling that during bad times.”
Purists say good T20 players are those who first establish themselves in the longer versions.
McCullum is trying to move in the opposite direction. What adventures are in store might go a long way in determining how New Zealand fare in this series against the world’s most happening side.