Brendon McCullum takes over for 'good of team'

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 05:00 09/12/2012
Brendon McCullum
Photosport
NEW CAPTAIN: Brendon McCullum.

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Brendon McCullum considered every option when asked to captain the New Zealand cricket team, amid intense public criticism, before deciding that accepting the role in all three forms was in the best interests of the team.

McCullum has been left to pick up the pieces after an explosive week for New Zealand Cricket. Its handling of Ross Taylor's axing as limited-overs captain and his subsequent decision to turn down the test captaincy after a breakdown in his relationship with coach Mike Hesson, has attracted widespread public ridicule.

McCullum is walking into a firestorm but said he had to take the test captaincy as well as the limited overs jobs for the good of the team.

"I considered all options," the 31-year-old said after fronting the media for the first time since being named New Zealand's 28th test captain.

"When you're trying to keep your head down, while everyone else is throwing stuff around, you do a lot of thinking and go through a lot of different options. Ultimately, though, the only thing that matters is that I felt, from a team perspective, I had to stand up and grab all three jobs.

"While it's certainly not how I'd want to get the job, if I didn't do it, then unfortunately it would have been left to someone like Kane Williamson. That's not fair on him. I'm probably the best equipped to do it at this point in time and I'll give it my best shot."

He insisted suggestions of friction between himself and Taylor were "media hype", and rejected suggestions he had any input into Hesson's recommendation that Taylor lose the limited-overs captaincy jobs.

"Ross and I have a very good and respectful relationship, we know each other, we've played with each other for a very long time, and we know each other's families. My thoughts are with him, and when he's good and ready to come back we'll welcome him. He's an integral part of our team."

Much has been made of McCullum's relationship with Hesson, a former coach at Otago, but most of it was "blown incredibly out of proportion".The new captain now faces an unenviable task this summer - away to South Africa and home to England, with an under-performing team, public faith seemingly at an all-time low and all eyes on him, a player and now captain who can be purely brilliant on his day, frustrating on others.

A Stuff.co.nz poll indicated widespread support for Taylor and not a lot for McCullum.

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"Ultimately, we're judged on our performances, and people will always have their opinions about what you're like behind the scenes," McCullum said.

Lately some of those performances, including his own, "haven't been where we want them to be".

Next week will be about getting around the team and devising a plan for South Africa.

As for captaincy style, McCullum says he doesn't have one after just 48 hours.

"Right now, I'm not going to sit here and say we're going to play this style of cricket. I haven't had a great deal of time to devise some strategies for this side. That will come.

"I've got some thoughts and principles I try to adhere to in all aspects of the game and I need to work out how they sit in the group. I've got a sneaky feeling the team possesses the skill set of players who can play instinctively, and with aggression as well, and hopefully that does marry up to the game-plan we want to play."

The captaincy would not affect his aggressive approach to batting.

He admired captains such as Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Mahela Jayawardene and Graeme Smith, describing the latter as brash but meticulous and methodical.

Closer to home, he had been lucky enough to play under Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori and Taylor.

"All three guys I continue to speak to and seek assistance from, because I'd be a fool not to."

- Sunday Star Times

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