The IPL 2019 auction is approaching in a month’s time and the franchises are all set with their team strategies and formations. All eight teams have declared the list of players who have been released from their contracts for the upcoming season, and one of the released players from Royal Challengers Bangalore is New Zealand’s legend Brendon McCullum.
Both the IPL and Brendon McCullum are indebted to each other. It was McCullum’s spectacular 158 not out in the inaugural IPL match in 2008 that ensured a blockbuster opening for the marquee event. The knock was a great advertisement for the league and in the next 10 years, it took great care of McCullum.
The New Zealander has featured in all the IPLs so far and has represented five different franchises over the years.
Even at the age of 37, McCullum will not be a burden on any team. In the 2018 IPL season, he played six matches in which piled up 127 runs at a strike rate of 144.31. The former Black Caps captain plays in T20 leagues all around the globe and is still fit to take the field.
Apart from his batting, McCullum also brings with him the years of experience that he has amassed.
Here are three IPL teams that can benefit from having Brendon McCullum in the side for IPL 2019.
#3 Rajasthan Royals
The Royals returned to the IPL in 2018 after a hiatus of two years. They acquired a few players at exorbitant prices, but failed to extract good enough performances from them.
They have released the Australian opener D’Arcy Short, who failed to get going in the 2018 season. This creates a spot for an opening partner for Jos Buttler, and Brendon McCullum can fulfill that role perfectly.
McCullum is an explosive batsman in T20s, to state the obvious. More often than not, he gets the team off to a flier. The right-hander is capable of destroying any bowling attack and making the best use of the powerplay overs as well.
Batting at the top, he can solve a major problem that RR confronted in the last season.
The Royals struggled to find the right opening combination throughout the season. It was in a rain-curtailed match that they decided to promote Jos Buttler to the top, and that worked like magic. Buttler single-handedly revived the team’s fortunes and brought them on the cusp of playoff qualification.
With D’Arcy Short released, McCullum and Buttler can unleash fury on the opposition from the beginning. McCullum can also come in handy as a backup opener once Buttler leaves for his World Cup preparations.
#2 Kings XI Punjab
A team that has consistently failed to live up to the expectations, Kings XI Punjab is in store for another shuffle. They have released 11 of their players from this season, and these include significant names like Aaron Finch, Yuvraj Singh, Axar Patel, and Manoj Tiwary.
They can buy as many as 15 new players for IPL 2019, out of which four can be overseas players.
In the 2018 season, KXIP used the opening combination of KL Rahul and Chris Gayle. The pair yielded impressive results and the ‘Gayle storm’ did arrive on occasions. However, it is evident that the Gayle force is not as consistent as it used to be.
If the Universe Boss fails to deliver in IPL 2019, McCullum can serve as a potent backup option - especially since Aaron Finch is also no longer available.
McCullum will, in addition, be of substantial help to the captain with his tremendous experience of T20 cricket. He can also act as a mentor for the Indian batsmen in KXIP's talented dugout.
#1. Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata Knight Riders possessed one of the smallest squads in IPL 2018. But they managed to punch above their weight and ended at the third spot.
For the upcoming season, they have released eight players and now have space for 12 cricketers out of which five can be overseas players. In such circumstances, having McCullum onboard could prove of great benefit for the Knight Riders.
If KKR indeed secure McCullum in their squad for IPL 2019, then life will come full circle for the New Zealand batsman. It was while batting for Kolkata Knight Riders that he scripted his epic knock of 158 not out in the opening game of the IPL. He has already played for the franchise for five years and was a part of the IPL 2012 winning squad too.
McCullum can act as a backup opener for the Knight Riders. He can come in handy when Lynn is called up by Cricket Australia for the World Cup. He will also be valuable in the mentoring role, as the squad has quite a few youngsters.