Ahead of the 12th anniversary of Vivo IPL, we caught up with our now Head Coach Brendon McCullum, to travel down the memory lane, and revisit the magical knock he scripted as the KKR opener on 18th April, 2008.
That mind-blowing first night of the Indian Premier League 2008 - The story never gets old. Can you take us through the memories?
McCullum: Well, I never really got too nervous throughout my cricket career, but on that occasion, I’ll admit I was very nervous. I think none of us really knew what this tournament (the IPL) was going to be like. We all loved the idea of it, we loved the fanfare, but all the eyeballs of the cricketing world got turned towards Bangalore that night. I feel so lucky and privileged to have had the opportunity (to be a part of that spectacle)
You talk about sliding doors, and moments in your careers and in lives. That night, my life changed completely in the space of those three hours or actually, even an hour-hour and a half.
Why was I the one who got that opportunity to be able to go and face (the) first (delivery) with Sourav Ganguly? How did I get a chance to play in the first game, have the first opportunity to bat in such a huge tournament for world cricket? How was I even able to grab that opportunity? How much luck did I have along the way? Honestly, I don't know the answers to any of these, but what I do know is that it changed my life forever.
It changed my family's life forever, and I feel very blessed and very humble and very lucky. What I did that night was something I didn't think I was capable of achieving. I couldn't have done it without my teammates, that's 100% sure. It was just a surreal moment in time where you just look back and say, ‘How lucky was I?’
Do you recollect any specific reactions from your teammates or the owners on that night, which got embedded in your mind forever?
McCullum: I was just a young kid back then, so I was so in awe of Shah Rukh Khan who was such a mega star. I was so out of my depth even just around the superstars in my cricket team, let alone the megastar who owned our cricket team! I don't remember many reactions in detail, but what I do remember is what Sourav Ganguly said to me that night.
Dada said, ‘Your life is changed forever’, and I didn't quite know what he meant at the time, but (in hindsight), I 100% agree with him. Shah Rukh, in the months which followed or the days and the weeks and the months which followed, he said. ‘you'll always be with the Knight Riders.’
There were times when I was with KKR, and then I got released, but we always finished on really good terms. I was always very grateful, and thankful for the opportunity that the franchise had provided for me. So when an opportunity arose again (for the role of head coach), I thought: ‘Well, Shah Rukh did say to me ‘You'll always be very involved with KKR’ and this, I guess, is another opportunity.’
I find them (the entire KKR management) to be such great people, hopefully we can have success for them on the field in the years to follow. We're trying to play a style of cricket which is a great representation of the people of Bengal and also Shah Rukh, Jay (Mehta) and all those involved in the franchise. Hopefully, we will be successful, because I think we've got the right team for it as well.
Currently, how are you dealing with Social Distancing and the Lockdown?
McCullum: Well I guess we are all dealing with it in different ways, and every country has its own issues at the moment. It has definitely passed things slowly. I’m trying to enjoy the time that I’m getting at home with the family, because in a funny way, we are all forced to really spend a lot of time with our loved ones which is fantastic. We probably don’t stop and take as much time to appreciate that. When we are on the other side of this pandemic and hopefully, we haven’t lost too many lives, and things are returning to normal in the schedule of all of us cricket coaches, commentators and people all around involved in the game, it's going to get pretty intense. So I’m trying to just enjoy the break for now.
Sachin Tendulkar recently spoke about approaching these difficult times with a session-by-session approach. What’s your take on that?
McCullum: I agree with Sachin. I think you know we need to just try and break this down, and try and look at it in isolation every time - just small steps like in a session by session (scenario). Deal with every day, make sure your days are well planned, well structured. I think that's the best thing from what we’ve tried to do in our family as well. Every day, write a bit of a plan of what we’re going to trying to tick off and what we're going to try and achieve. Funnily enough we’ve done it around meal times - breakfast together, lunch together and then dinner together. Additionally, just sort of tick off some jobs outside, whether it’s cleaning out your wardrobes or whether its cleaning the roof or doing all the gutters or whatever, there’s always something to be done. Just as Sachin said, play it like a Test match and break it down into sessions.
We noticed you’ve been following KKR’s new strength and condition trainer Chris Donaldson’s workout regimes quite diligently…
McCullum: If you're going to do a little bit of crime, you've got to do some time too! That's exactly why Chris Donaldson, our trainer, who is also the New Zealand team’s trainer and a former Olympics sprinter, has been setting up sessions for all the (KKR) players.
I've sort of figured that as a coach, I can’t ask others to do what you’re not prepared to do yourself. So whilst I can't do them as well as the players can, I can still put in a little bit of effort.
I've also heard that the shirts this year - all our practice shirts and coaches shirts - are going to be very, very tight, so I need to make sure I'm not too fat as we head into the season!