One of the best keepers for New Zealand and probably the most destructive hitters of the cricket ball in this century so far, Brendon McCullum is the most prolific cricketer that New Zealand has produced at the turn of the new millennium.
The stylish right-hander who debuted for Otago in 1999, played his first ODI in 2002 but struggled to get going in his first two years of international cricket. However, from 2004 onwards, a steady improvement in the batting charts not only saw him establish himself in ODIs but also inspired confidence in the selectors to give him a break in Test cricket. In his first Test against South Africa, McCullum went on to score 57 in the first innings. He scored his maiden Test hundred against Bangladesh in only his seventh Test and came up with a few more good knocks but as has been the general trend for wicket-keepers, continued to be wasted in the middle order.
McCullum's luck changed following the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup, when Daniel Vettori took over the captaincy from Stephen Fleming. Vettori wasted no time in promoting McCullum to the top of the order and he returned his captain's favour with knocks of 81 and 96 against South Africa and Australia respectively. The inaugural season of the Indian T20 League was set alight with his breath-taking unbeaten 158, setting high standards for the remainder of the tournament. In 2009, he had notched up four consecutive fifties in T20Is, one each against West Indies and Australia and two against India.
An acrobatic keeper improving over time, McCullum gave up on his wicket-keeping in Tests to concentrate on batting but still remained sharp and safe in the outfield. In 2012, he was handed over the captaincy role, taking over from Ross Taylor after the latter had a fall-out with the team management. McCullum has faced a chronic back issue that has resurfaced from time to time. During West Indies' tour to New Zealand in 2013, McCullum decided to give up keeping to prolong his career as a batsman, being the senior-most member of the team and a very important batsman. In the Test series against India at home in 2014, Brendon McCullum notched up a triple century, becoming the first ever Kiwi to do so. Featuring in the Indian T20 league since its inception, Baz was signed up by Chennai in the 7th season, after representing his former club, Kolkata previously.
The 2015 ICC World Cup was the pinnacle in his ODI career. He took full advantage of the fact that the mega event was staged in his home conditions, leading New Zealand to their first ever World Cup final, losing only the ultimate match in the tournament.