Brash, brutal and brilliant to watch, Brendon McCullum can bruise bowling attacks like few other men in international cricket. A wicketkeeper-batsman, McCullum has been used throughout the New Zealand batting order, but whenever he arrives at the crease it’s impossible to look away. He muscles balls over both sides of the field and was responsible for getting the IPL off to an electrifying start, lighting up the tournament’s first match with 158 and showing what the format had to offer.
He also became the second man, after Chris Gayle, to score a Twenty20 international century when he brazenly scooped 155kph offerings from Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes over the wicketkeeper’s head in Christchurch in 2009-10. McCullum describes himself as “brash” and that innings was the proof, but he has also been a key part of New Zealand’s Test team since 2004. In the longer format he began his career at No. 7 and in his second series, entertained the crowd with 96 at Lord’s.
He has notched five of his six Test centuries in that position but made his highest score of 225, against India in Hyderabad, after moving to opener in late 2010. His first two Test centuries came against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe and there were questions over his performances against tougher opponents. Eventually, five years after his Test debut, he raised his bat against one of the top teams with 115 against India in Napier. It kicked off an excellent 12-month period during which McCullum scored three Test centuries and averaged 48.60.
A reliable wicketkeeper, McCullum first made the ODI team as a batsman but while he still regularly keeps in limited-overs cricket he has not taken the gloves in Tests since 2010. Although Adam Parore’s Test mark of 201 dismissals remains within his reach, the chances of McCullum going back behind the stumps were further reduced when he took over as captain in all formats at the end of 2012. His succession was anything but smooth, however, with Ross Taylor opting out of New Zealand’s subsequent tour of South Africa after being replaced in controversial circumstances. Despite two chastening Test defeats, a first-ever ODI series win in South Africa provided New Zealand, and McCullum, with a positive end to the tour.