McCullum says he's 'worried' about Taylor
It should have been a truly triumphant day in Brendon Barrie McCullum's cricket career. It was anything but.
He may even have dreamed as a young boy about fronting the media for the first time as New Zealand cricket captain.
Yesterday, when he rocked up to New Zealand Cricket HQ in Lincoln, the 31-year-old looked as though he would have rather been somewhere, anywhere, else.
McCullum gets a bum rap from many cricket fans. They look at his record and say he hasn't lived up to his potential. They bemoan his lack of runs when it matters. They get frustrated by his dismissals. They can, at times, all be valid criticisms.
But those who know him will tell you that attacks on his character or his devotion to the New Zealand team are out of line.
Likewise, suggestions he had anything to do with Ross Taylor's demise as New Zealand captain. Either McCullum is an A-class Hollywood actor or he was truly uneasy about being at Lincoln yesterday.
From a pre-conference chat, you could clearly tell he was upset and angry about the circumstances which had led to him getting the captaincy in all three forms of the game. A day of celebration this was not.
When a photographer asked to take him outside for a few shots, he made it clear that he wouldn't be forced into wide smiles or shots of jubilation. It had to be low-key. He clearly has respect for Taylor and empathy for what his teammate is going through, so the gloss had well and truly been taken off.
"My own individual accolade picking up the captaincy is certainly not the focus," he later said.
"I'm worried for Ross and how he is dealing with things at the moment and how we try and ensure we pull together this team in a short space of time, for what is going to be an incredibly tough tour [to South Africa].
"I guess I'm more concerned right now with how the team is handling this situation and where we go from here, how we try and galvanise the unit."
McCullum is a straight-up sort of a bloke so when he says he would have been over the moon with the limited-overs captaincy only, and that he wanted Taylor to be test captain [though that is clearly not going to happen under Mike Hesson's tenure as coach], you have to believe him.
"I thought we could have worked really well together," McCullum said of the split captaincy idea.
"Ultimately now I've now got a job to do and help this team achieve more wins. That's where my focus is, rather than trumpeting the fact I'm test captain."
He said it had been an "incredibly difficult week for everyone involved" but in running with the theme of the day, he didn't want the focus to be on him.
"I don't want to sit here and say how hard it's been on me because it's been a lot harder on other people, but as long as you know your dealings are honest and you maintain your integrity throughout then you can look yourself in the eye and know you're doing the right thing."
Sunday Star Times