Brendon McCullum wants to be at ‘absolute top’ as career winds down
Soon-to-retire New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum intends to bow out in style when he starts his farewell tour on Saturday leading the Kiwis into a one-day series against Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka have called up reinforcements for the five ODIs after their 2-0 hammering in the Tests. Lahiru Thirimanne, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Nuwan Kulasekara and, depending on fitness, Lasith Malinga are among a number of players injected into the ODI squad.
But as much as they want to get on the winning side of the ledger McCullum is equally adamant he wants to sign off his illustrious 13-year-career on a winning note.
The opening ODI is on Boxing Day in McCullum’s hometown Christchurch, where he will play his last international in the second Test against Australia in two months.
“We’ve got a bumper calendar really with Sri Lanka here at the moment, Pakistan to come and finishing off with the Aussies,” he said.
“From a playing point of view and a captain’s point of view, I’m fully committed to playing at the absolute top of my game and make as many contributions as I can.”
Coach Mike Hesson said he does not expect McCullum’s retirement announcement to have an adverse effect on the team.
“We’re expecting the guys to carry on in a similar style of play in terms of how we want to go about things,” Hesson said.
“We will still be quite aggressive in the way we go about the game and we’ll certainly be asking that of our players.”
Nearly half the team beaten by Australia in the World Cup final in March will be missing from the Sri Lanka series.
Grant Elliott and Corey Anderson are injured, Daniel Vettori has retired, Trent Boult is being spelled for the ODI series and Tim Southee is being rested for the first two games.
However, Adam Milne, New Zealand’s quickest bowler and who missed the World Cup final because of a heel injury, returns to the side.
He joins Mitchell McClenaghan, Matt Henry and Doug Bracewell as the pace-bowling options, with the quartet vying for places in the squad to be named for the World Twenty20 in India in March.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews was disappointed with the way his side folded in the Tests but expected a better showing in the limited overs series. “Dilshan, Kulasekara and Thirimanne are joining the one-day team and we’ve got a fair bit of experience so we are looking to give them a good run for their money,” he said.
“I have a lot of confidence in the one dayers.”
One bright spot for Sri Lanka in the failed Test campaign was the emergence of 23-year-old Dushmantha Chameera as a talented quick bowler.
“He’s played just a few games and he’s been absolutely brilliant and he was able to shake the New Zealanders. He’s a great, bright prospect for us going forward,” Mathews said.
“He doesn’t have a lot of seam movement. It’s just that he can bowl fast. He can bowl a good yorker as well and if he can keep his pace up here constantly, troubling the batsmen, that’s all I want.”