WELLINGTON: New Zealand media dubbed triple centurion Brendon McCullum “Captain Fantastic” Wednesday, as Black Caps coach Mike Hesson said his unfancied team was finally reaching its potential. “Our greatest innings,” trumpeted the New Zealand Herald’s front page, accompanied by a picture of McCullum with his arms aloft after scoring 302 in the second Test against India at Wellington’s Basin Reserve.
“History maker,” splashed Wellington’s Dominion Post, highlighting some of the records McCullum shattered on his way to becoming the first New Zealander in 84 years of Test cricket to reach 300. They included the longest-ever innings by a New Zealand batsman at 775 minutes, facing the most balls (559) and contributing to a national record Test innings score of 680.
“No wonder he looked so shattered,” the Dominion Post said, adding that the tattooed 32-year-old had earned a place alongside the greats of New Zealand cricket. “It’s been a heck of a summer,” coach Mike Hesson told commercial radio, saying New Zealand had a depth of playing talent that combined experience and youth.
“We’ve got some nice players around New Zealand at the moment and it’s a matter of picking the right time to introduce them.” Hesson, who faced a huge public backlash after installing McCullum as captain ahead of the popular Ross Taylor in late 2012, said the fans were now behind the team.
New Zealand Cricket board member Martin Snedden said the Black Caps’ form provided a huge boost to the game as the country prepares to co-host the World Cup with Australia next year.
‘Obnoxious’ Dhoni under fire after new tour flop
While McCullum is over the moon beleaguered skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was put on notice by his predecessors Wednesday after India suffered yet another away series defeat, with one of them calling his leadership “obnoxious”.
The 1-0 loss to New Zealand on Tuesday was India’s fourth consecutive series defeat abroad and followed a 4-0 drubbing for the World Cup champions in the preceding one-dayers.
India have now lost 10 of their last 12 Tests abroad – the other two were drawn – a record that included two successive 4-0 whitewashes in England and Australia.
As the media trained its guns on the celebrated captain, former captain Sourav Ganguly said his Test captaincy was “obnoxious”, while Rahul Dravid hinted his strategy was too timid to win in the five-day format.
Both, however, wanted him to remain Test skipper until next year’s 50 over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, while another ex-captain Sunil Gavaskar stressed that a leader was only as good as his team.