Brendon McCullum says goodbye, Viv Richards’s PSL celebrations and reality check for England

Osman Samiuddin touches on a few of the talking points in the world of international cricket from the past week.

Brendon McCullum, captain of New Zealand, plays a shot during Day 3 of the second cricket Test match between New Zealand and Australia at the Hagley Park in Christchurch on February 22, 2016. AFP PHOTO / MARTY MELVILLE
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If this is goodbye then who would ever want to say hello?

In front of his home crowd, on a lively pitch against an even livelier attack, with his side collapsing, he went out and belted the fastest hundred Test cricket has ever seen.

And so Brendon McCullum ended a career which, latterly, had transformed into a seminal one for New Zealand cricket.

His ton was not short of fortune, not least when he was caught off a no-ball when on 39. Too many to count were the boundaries that came from edges. ESPNcricinfo’s “control” percentage of his innings was as low as 70 per cent.

But it was an honest-to-goodness McCullum innings, played in the fashion that he wants his sides to play in, unfazed by defeat or disaster and always aggressive.

It is unlikely to avoid defeat against the Steve Smith-led Australians, but that will hardly matter: people will remember the innings more than the result.

Richards has done a lot for PSL

Of the many images of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), few have stood out as much as Viv Richards's celebrations.

In particular was the startling leap once Mohammed Nabi had helped Quetta Gladiators chase 202 against Lahore Qalandars.

Richards has been one of the stories of the tournament, an unlikely mentor for the league’s underdog franchise (which they are only in name).

Tale upon tale of his galvanising effect is heard. Pep talks to his teams or one-on-one chats with overawed players in need of confidence.

So prominent has the West Indian legend been that there is serious talk of a similar role with the Pakistan national side.

That will be a different dynamic altogether and, probably, come with greater pressures. But that he has already been of greater benefit than was thought when he first came is not in doubt.

Reality check for England

A pummelling is how it ended.

South Africa, with head Gonzo-batsman AB de Villiers to the fore, hauled down 172 in less than 15 overs. That meant England lost the T20 series 2-0, and had lost the ODI series 3-2, having been two-up.

It does not mean that the fruits of last year have been spoilt but the results are a wake-up call.

England have had every right to feel good about their limited-overs game since the last 50-over World Cup, but they should recognise they are a work in progress.

Most of that work should focus on the bowling.

For all the runs England score, and for all the crazy rates they do it at, it always feels as if their attack is not sturdy or incisive enough to put the opposition out of the game.

It has cost them in South Africa and it may well do in India.

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

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