Signing off, Baz style
Fortune favours the brave, sometimes even when they are hanging up their boots. Brendon ‘Baz’ McCullum has been Captain Courageous of the New Zealand cricket team since 2013, molding it into a fighting unit brimming with exciting talent and killer instinct. After 14 years of non-stop intertiol cricket, McCullum announced on December 22 last that he is through with the game. He ended his last ODI series on a high, leading his side from the front for a hard fought 2-1 win against Australia recently. And now he is playing in his fil Test match, the 101st of his illustrious career. But on the first day itself at his beloved Hagley Oval at Christchurch, Baz has scripted the mother of all fairytale endings with two world records — the fastest ton in Test cricket and the highest number of total sixes. He took 54 balls to race to his century, two balls less than the earlier record which jointly stood in Viv Richards and Misbah-ul-Haq’s mes. What is more, the skipper’s counter-attacking 145 in 79 balls came after Aussie quickies had left his team gasping at three for 32. Baz decided to go hell for leather after getting feedback that ‘at any stage a ball could have your me on it’ on the green, damp pitch. The quicksilver hand-eye coordition, superb bat speed in hitting through the line, trademark cricketing shots and improvised slogs were all there in this vintage Baz masterclass. The Kiwis are trailing 0-1 and must win this decider to level the series; chances are they will make a fight of it after the skipper’s blitzkrieg. But this Test match is already memorable for leaving fans asking the question that Sunil Gavaskar felt should be asked whenever somebody is signing off for good — ‘Why now?’ instead of ‘Why not?’.