WELLINGTON: As much as Brendon McCullum looks back fondly on a stellar career, more than anything he wants to sign off with a series win over Australia starting with the first Test in Wellington on Friday.
The clash at the Basin Reserve is also his milestone 100th and he bows out of international cricket after the second and final Test at Hagley Oval in Christchurch next week.
The last time New Zealand claimed a “series” win over Australia was in a one-off Test, also at the Basin Reserve, 26 years ago when McCullum was only eight years old.
“It will be nice to tick off a series win against Australia,” the swashbuckling opener said Thursday as he reminisced about his career which began in 2004 as a wicketkeeper-batsman.
“It will be pretty special to be able to do it at home.
“It’s also nice to be able to have one of your last Tests and the 100th Test on such a special ground.”
The Basin Reserve is where McCullum cracked his best Test score of 302 against India two years ago to become the only New Zealander to post a triple century.
If true to form and he belts at least one six at the Basin it will give him 101 in his career and give him the outright Test record which he currently shares on 100 with now retired Australian Adam Gilchrist.
As much as Australia captain Steve Smith admires McCullum for what he has achieved, he said his side had added incentive to win the series as it will see them reclaim the top spot in the world rankings from India.
“He’s been a terrific cricketer for New Zealand for a long time now and anyone that plays 100 Tests that’s an incredible achievement, and hopefully we can make it a pretty average one for him. We want to win,” Smith said.
“We want to be number one in all formats of the game. That’s our goal.”
– ‘Sweaty black cap’ –
In his 99 Tests so far McCullum has scored 11 centuries, 31 fifties and a total of 6,273 runs (at an average of 38.48) including 751 fours to go with his 100 sixes.
While recognised as one of the game’s biggest hitters, McCullum acknowledged that his desire to bludgeon the bowling did not always pay off but he had no regrets.
“I’ve been pretty strong about how I’ve gone about the style of cricket which I’ve tried to play throughout my career,” he said.
“That can have its knockers as well and at the same time it can change a game too so that’s one thing I’ll look back on fondly as I was able to maintain that even through times which were slightly averse.”
For all the highs and lows of his career, including a back injury that has dogged him for the past six years, McCullum said that for him “the game’s always been about the changing room afterwards, after you’ve been able to earn a Test win in tough circumstances”.
“You’ve got dirty whites and sweaty black caps and a beer in hand and (to) be able to look back on hard work achieved, that’s what I got into the game for and that’s going to be the last memory of the game as well.”