It’s back to the future for Brendon McCullum at Headingley, and this time he’s packed his wicketkeeping pads.
The New Zealand captain goes into the second test against England as the side’s designated wicketkeeper for the first time in over three years. Not since the 2010 home series against Australia has McCullum been the test gloveman.
And he promises two things: this is a one-off return for a good of the team, and he won’t be creating murmurs by keeping wicket without pads as he did when standing in for the injured BJ Watling at Lord’s.
He explained it wasn’t intentional but Watling’s knee injury caught him on the hop, with gloves but without pads.
“BJ’s a bit shorter than me which isn’t normal. His pads didn’t quite cover my knees so I thought there was no real point,” said McCullum, who ditched Watling’s pads after one over at Lord’s.
“It was circumstantial, I just couldn’t find any ones that fitted me, but I found some the next day. One of my sponsors brought them in for me so I was very lucky. I knew that if there was an injury to BJ mid-test then I’d have to take over but you don’t anticipate those sorts of things happening.”
New Zealand had wicketkeeping options for Headingley, with Tom Latham in the squad and Luke Ronchi having arrived on Wednesday with the ODI specialists. But McCullum, the country’s best gloveman for the past decade, seized the reins.
“I didn’t take convincing because it was the right thing to do for the team. We had other options up our sleeve but ultimately this was what we determined was the right option.
“I’ll stress it is a one-off situation and I’ve said in the past I’d take up those challenges if need be for the team as well. It’s disappointing for BJ because he’s been keeping brilliantly and developing as a wicketkeeper-batsman.”
In 51 tests as gloveman, McCullum averages 34.77 with the bat, compared with his overall average of 35.79 from 76 matches.
McCullum, 31, said his troublesome knees and back, which he provided as the reasons for giving up the gloves, were fine for now. “Ask me in five days. They will be OK.”
He said it was “fanciful” to expect he could return to the wicketkeeping role in tests.
“As I’ve stated previously, my body can’t hold up to the demands of keeping long term in test cricket.”
- Fairfax Media