McCullum would welcome Middlesex return

Brendon McCullum in batting action for Middlesex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Brendon McCullum in batting action for Middlesex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo) - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

New Zealand batsman heads off to Caribbean Premier League

Brendon McCullum has hinted that he would welcome a return to Middlesex for a third successive NatWest T20 Blast season in 2018, as he leaves this season’s competition after playing nine group matches.

McCullum’s latest stint, in which he has also been a captain intent on attack, ended with the away fixture against Sussex Sharks at Hove. The former New Zealand star now leaves the UK to take part in the Caribbean Premier League.

“I would have loved to be able to play for the entire competition, but I will be doing all I can to go out on a high,” he said.

“We’ll see what next year brings but it would be nice to be able to come back to Middlesex.”

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McCullum’s swashbuckling 28-ball 63 against Essex Eagles showed that he is still capable of hugely destructive batting at the top of a T20 order.

Going into the Sussex match, however, he had scored a modest 194 runs from eight Blast innings at an average of 24.25 and his only other innings of note had been 88 against Kent Spitfires at Richmond.

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He made 26 from 15 balls as Middlesex reached 136-6 from 17.4 overs before rain washed out play and what the 35-year-old has undoubtedly brought to the club’s T20 approach this season is a willingness to be bold at every turn of a short-form match.

In liaison with his fellow countryman and former Black Caps’ teammate, Daniel Vettori, who is working as the county’s dedicated T20 coach, McCullum has been busy installing a new attitude into a team who – in recent years – have struggled to find T20 success.

“What we have now got is a group of guys who understand how we want to play T20 cricket,” added McCullum. “I have had a great time here this summer and everyone has bought into the brand of cricket we want to play in the Blast.

“For instance, the one thing we can always bring to our T20 matches is intensity in the field. With batting and bowling, sometimes that doesn’t work out quite as you want, but fielding is different. You can bring that intensity to it every time.”

McCullum picks out Eoin Morgan, England’s white-ball captain, as a leader in the fielding department and – following the win against Essex – was also keen to praise the bowling of young paceman Tom Helm and the batting contribution made from No 3 by wicketkeeper John Simpson.

“I think that ‘Simmo’ is getting better and better with every game at the moment, and he’s also another very strong leader within this group,” added McCullum.

For their last five South Group matches, however, Middlesex will have to do without the man who has made more than 14,000 international runs in all formats. In what is looking like being a very tightly-fought scrap for quarter-final qualification from the South Group, it is time for other leaders in the team to stand up.

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