| Brendon McCullum |
Chandigarh: Captain Brendon McCullum has described India’s forthcoming tour of New Zealand as “the highlight of our summer.”
India’s last trip there was in 2008-09.
In a one on one with The Telegraph at the JW Marriott, on Thursday evening, McCullum said: “India’s visit will be the highlight of our summer... I don’t know whether Sachin (Tendulkar) would be in the squad, but if he’s there, fans will give him the respect he deserves as the greatest cricketer...
“While fans would like Sachin to tour, from New Zealand’s point of view, I’d be happy if he doesn’t... We’d rather face an India without Sachin!”
McCullum acknowledged that New Zealand had to start climbing the rankings. “We’re No.8 in Tests and T20s, No.7 in ODIs... We’ve got to move up... The season begins with our trip to Bangladesh. Then, we host the West Indies before India.”
Bangladesh are unlikely to be pushovers. Just like Zimbabwe weren’t, when they hosted Pakistan only recently.
New Zealand play two Tests, three ODIs and one T20 in Bangladesh (from October 9 to November 6). At home, they face the West Indies in three Tests, five ODIs and two T20s (between December 3-January 15).
The “highlight” visit by India features five ODIs and two Tests from January 19 to February 18.
There’s much on McCullum’s plate.
McCullum is in India with the Otago Volts and his team have made the CLT20 proper. “We did have some tough moments in the back-to-back qualifying matches, but proved to be better,” he pointed out.
Otago play the Sunrisers Hyderabad in their last match. The Sunrisers, too, have already qualified.
Asked what made the difference in T20s, McCullum replied with a grin: “The batters must not have the fear of getting out and the bowlers have to respond to the situation. To succeed, you need to be fearless. That’s the bottom line.”
McCullum, who turns 32 next Friday, has been exactly that.
As for his No.1 T20 cricketer, McCullum chose Chris Gayle — “easily the most destructive around.”
Few will dare disagree.