Calcutta: Brendon McCullum, the 30-year-old New Zealand star, spoke to The Telegraph at the ITC Sonar on Wednesday.
The following are excerpts
Q After a year with another franchise, you’re back with the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)...
A As I’ve told you, it’s great to be at a franchise which has such good owners and a very organised environment.
So, you honestly weren’t upset when the KKR didn’t retain you in 2010-11?
I wasn’t... That’s the truth. In fact, I’d even texted a message to (principal owner) Shah Rukh Khan and the other owners, after the 2011 auction, saying there certainly weren’t hard feelings from my side and that I understood the franchise’s plans... That I’d enjoyed every minute of being with the KKR.
Have you spoken to Shah Rukh after returning to the KKR fold?
No... I’m looking forward to meeting him on Thursday.
You spent a year with the Kochi Tuskers Kerala. What was that experience like?
There were a few things to be sorted out, but the guys were nice... There were teething problems, as it was a new franchise... Then, I had to get used to the wicket at the home ground, had to adapt.
What was your reaction when the Board of Control for Cricket in India terminated Kochi’s contract, last September?
I wasn’t aware of what was going on and, so, I was taken aback... I guess everything happens for a reason.
Have you been paid your dues?
I’d rather not get into it.
Just how different is the Brendon McCullum of 2012 compared to the one who played that truly unforgettable innings (158 not out) in the very first match of the IPL, four years ago?
(Laughs) A bit older with a few more scars in battle... I’m more secure about my role in international cricket... Have been around for some years now (first appearance for New Zealand in January 2002)... I’ve evolved as a cricketer, but continue to learn. I wouldn’t say I’m a finished product as yet.
What were your thoughts on the eve of the IPL’s first edition, in 2008?
No one knew how the tournament would unfold and grow.
Your innings against the Royal Challengers Bangalore is still talked about, for it gave the IPL itself a spectacular launch. What did it mean to you?
I hadn’t been sure of my role in the team, but that innings changed things... Expectations grew. Of course, I may not do a repeat of that 158 not out.
Did that innings put you under more pressure, even in international cricket?
A little bit, but with pressure comes opportunities. I think, over time, I’ve learnt to perform in a pressure environment. Be it international cricket or the IPL, there are challenges.
What about the motivation level? Isn’t there a big difference?
Look, whatever the level of cricket, you shouldn’t be walking around with no motivation. Once you cross the rope, you’ve got to give it everything.
But what happens when you move from one franchise to another?
Depends on the circumstances... That’s the way of the world these days... But, yes, you could have an emotional attachment to a franchise after a period of time. I confess it was tough playing against the KKR last year, but I had a job to do.
Barring a couple of the local players, this KKR outfit is very different to the one in the first three years...
It’s a very good team, capable of playing very smart cricket.
How come the franchise hasn’t even made the final of one edition?
Again, as I’ve said, good things take time.
Are you under more pressure this time?
I have my own expectations, of wanting to perform throughout this edition of the IPL... As an international cricketer, you’re expected to be consistent and help your franchise win.
As a batsman, is your approach to a T20 game very different from the other formats?
The basics are the same, the basic principles don’t change... You’ve still got to manipulate the field, play each ball on its merit.
Has T20 helped you become a better cricketer?
I hope so. This format couldn’t have come about at a better time for my game. It teaches more skills.
Is there a T20 cricketer you envy?
(Smiles) Chris Gayle. He’s got raw power and an enormous ability to consistently hit the ball far.
Some questions on New Zealand cricket... Why can’t the Black Caps really make a splash?
There are plenty of reasons... Our population being one of them. We don’t have a vast pool of talent, like India.
Rugby remains the No.1 sport...
Absolutely and will remain so.
You were in the running for the New Zealand captaincy, but lost out to Ross Taylor. What happened?
Well... There was a public debate on the issue... Ross got it... I was disappointed, but there’s no animosity from my side.
How is Taylor shaping up?
He’s still finding his feet, he’ll take some time to develop.
You were the KKR captain in the IPL’s second edition. Did that weigh you down?
Wasn’t weighed down, I didn’t play well. There were other reasons too... But, then, everything happens for a reason.
Were there moments of friction between you and Sourav Ganguly, your predecessor?
Not at all. Sourav and I got along well... The next year (2010), he was back as the KKR captain and we didn’t have a problem. You’ve got to be professional about these things and never get personal.
Sourav’s captaining the Pune Warriors this time...
Yeah, I’m looking forward to our matches.
The final one... It’s widely held that records are meant to be broken, but can anybody do a Sachin Tendulkar?
Score a 100 International hundreds? No way.