Brendon McCullum on Saturday wrote history in an incredible fashion in his final Test. The 34-year-old bastman from New Zealand smashed a 54-ball century against trans-Tasman rivals Australia, the fastest ever in the history of the longest format of the game, on a lively pitch on the opening day of the second match in Christchurch.
The dashing batsman, who led his country to the final of the 50-over World Cup last year only to lose their first match in the final, couldn't have ended his career in a more befitting way. McCullum, however, spoke professionally when asked whether he knew of the record. "No, no idea," he said, adding that he just aimed to hit every ball for a four or six. Yes, that came from a man is playing his final Test on earth.
Many had feared that the man's 14-year show on the international stage could conclude in a damp squib but he blew away those negative thoughts just like the balls he was facing.
The mindset makes the McCullums different from others
But then what makes people like McCullum different from many others who go through a similar phase to oblivion? The foremost difference is the mindset. Imagine a batsman playing in his final Test saying "attack was the best form of defence" on a grren wicket and leading the fight against a formidable opposition (the New Zealand captain came out to bat with the hosts struggling at 32 for 3). For players of the sub-continent specially, this is a lesson to learn.
In these parts, 'survival of the oldest' is mostly the common mantra and people focus on just about playing it out so that their average and legacy are not disturbed. But not for the McCullums. Just a few Tests short of 100, the Kiwi batsman-wicketkeeper never gave it a thought to those more theoretical aspects and smashed around the deliveries that weren't of high merit. And just like teh fortune favours the brave, McCullum's dashing century in his last Test will make him more memorable than an ordinary average of less than 40.
Still fit and enjoying, they bother less about statistics
The second factor that makes the likes of McCullum different is they call its quits when they are still fit and enjoying. In the sub-continent, most of the time we see players nearing retirement struggle with their age-related fitness but still for some unknown reason, fail to take a timely call on retirement. The result reflects poorly on the final few performances and add to the pressure of facing a humiliation. McCullum, on the other hand, hit a six to reach his final Test hundred and it was one of his six sixes. He also hit 21 fours in his innings.
Yes, McCullum could have been dismissed when he was on 39 but for bastmen of his callibre, those possibilities are also part of the story. Such innings also feature clinical hits and they make a better memory than those what-could-have-been stories.
This innings also gave McCullum the opportunity to bid adieu to New Zealand cricket on his own terms, something not anybody can achieve despite the talent.
And he is humble, too
Another factor that defines such extra-ordinary efforts is the humble attitude to life named cricket. After McCullum eclipsed the joint record of Viv Richards and Misbah-ul-Haq in scoring the fastest Test hundred, he said he was almost embarrassed after going past Sir Viv, who was his idol during the formative years.
A great attitude, isn't it?