McCullum: Hughes’ death changed our approach


New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum says the death of batsman Phillip Hughes had a major effect on their team and changed the way they approached the game.

The Black Caps, under McCullum's leadership, are known for being one of the 'nicest' teams to play against and hardly engage in any verbals with the opposition.

Hughes, an Australia international, was hit by a bouncer in a first-class game and died a few days later in hospital. The Black Caps were playing a Test match against Pakistan in Sharjah at the time.

Recalling the tragic incident, McCullum said: "It felt like he was one of us. It was this horrible feeling of knowing it could have been any one of us.

"We didn't want to continue. I was looking around the sheds and thought there was no way we could get these guys in the right space to play cricket.

"What you saw was a team playing without feeling. What we learnt was that when you play without any of the pressures and expectations we normally put on ourselves, your skills can be properly expressed."

The Black Caps then spoke about how they would approach matches and that they should not put to much pressure on themselves as it is just a game after all.

It proved a successful formula as New Zealand went on to win the ODI series in Asia and followed that up wins at home to Sri Lanka and Pakistan as well as mazy run to the World Cup final.

McCullum continued: "Most of it emanated from us being semi-embarrassed about the way we had played in the past.

"It has to be authentic and it may not last – you can't force it down people's throats – but this is the way I want this team to play and I know the senior guys have similar feelings on it."

The Black Caps are currently in Australia where they will take on the hosts in three Tests, starting in Brisbane on Thursday.