On this day, 15 years ago, the Indian Premier League (IPL) got off to a blistering start when Brendon McCullum blasted an unbeaten 158 off 73 balls for Kolkata Knight Riders to set the tone for the league to change the cricketing world forever.
Cut to now, McCullum, the head coach of Kolkata, went down memory lane with chief mentor David Hussey in a video on the league’s official website, recalling events which led from his circumspect start making way for a breath-taking one-man onslaught over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the inaugural match of IPL.
“Look I don’t have too many memories, to be honest. It’s a bit blurry but I remember getting the opportunity to bat with you, Sourav and Ricky throughout that innings. I remember being on zero off eight balls to start. My mind was ticking by thinking, ‘really made a big embarrassment of myself here’.
“Then, it was a little bit of fate and things were written under the stars. I think with a little bit of fighting and luck on my way with swinging here and there; thankfully it came off good,” recalled McCullum.
Post the blistering knock, McCullum’s value as a big-hitter and later as a leader soared incredibly in the cricketing world. The former New Zealand skipper was happy in playing a minuscule role into making IPL the brand it currently is.
“No one who supported the IPL, cricket in general, realised how big this tournament was going to become and I think we found out that night that what it means to the people who followed cricket here in India and also all around the world. It was nice to play a small hand in that.”
Incidentally, McCullum’s unbeaten 158 is the only century hit by a Kolkata batter in the history of IPL, which he hopes to change at some point in IPL 2022. “Well, we need to work on that second hundred because I am their batting coach. Hopefully, we will see the second, third or fourth hundred at some stage throughout the season in quick time.”
Call it coincidence, Kolkata, currently sixth in the points table, will be facing Rajasthan Royals at the Brabourne Stadium on Monday. McCullum now wants his team to make IPL’s 15th anniversary day memorable by becoming better in certain areas.
“It’s just to try and do what we do just a little bit better and sharpen a couple of areas. I don’t think we have to change a great deal. We have a very nice squad and got a nice camaraderie and morale amongst the group. If we keep the morale and communication high, then we give ourselves best chance to display talent. That would be the message coming from me and the support staff will be drilling the same message.”
For McCullum, who has been a part of the league since the very first game as a player and now as a coach, the IPL serves as a good exposure to players to step up their game even though Kolkata have only three wins from their first six games in the current season.