TRINBAGO Knight Riders (TKR) captain Dwayne Bravo said destructive top order batsman Brendon McCullum will be missed in the team’s line-up this season, but is happy he chose to remain with the TKR family as head coach of the franchise that is aiming to make it a hat-trick of Caribbean Premier League (CPL) T20 titles this season.
McCullum, of New Zealand, was recently appointed as head coach of TKR for the 2019 CPL, which runs from September 4 to October 12.
McCullum, who will replace Australian Simon Katich as head coach, has been an integral part of TKR since 2016 and helped the team win back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018. He was one of three TKR batsmen to finish among the top five in the run scoring chart last year. Colin Munro ended the year as the top scorer with 567 runs; Darren Bravo was fourth with 349 runs; and McCullum finished fifth with 343 runs at an average of 26.38 including three fifties at a healthy strike rate of 140.57.
Speaking with the Newsday, Bravo said he is not concerned about the team’s batting with the loss of McCullum, saying the team has always been equipped with an abundance of talent.
“We have Darren Bravo, we have Kieron Pollard, we have (Denesh) Ramdin, they all have big roles to play and (have) scored a lot of runs for TKR. We have Munro, who has been the best batsmen in CPL for the last three years. TKR was never a team that relied on one individual.” The TKR skipper is happy McCullum is still part of the team’s set up. “We are going to miss McCullum of course as a player, but now he is there as a coach so it’s like nothing changes. He is not on the field, but his knowledge and his input in the dressing room will be there and his presence will always be there and that is important.”
Bravo, who has led the TT franchise since the CPL began in 2013, thinks this year’s team is special. “I honestly feel all the years of picking a CPL team this year is the best team ever, the most balanced team.” Despite losing McCullum and Australian spinner Fawad Ahmed in the draft, TKR added TT and West Indies all rounder Pollard and New Zealand all rounder James Neesham.
Bravo thinks McCullum has the ability to be a quality coach. “First of all it is different role for him now and as he goes into his coaching career I think he is going to be a very good coach, because as a player and as a former captain he understands the game. He allows players to make mistakes and learn and grow for themselves. It is a great achievement and I am very happy that I will be working with him in a coach/captain relationship and I am looking forward to it and the entire squad is looking forward to it.”
Katich, who coached TKR from 2017-2018, was praised by Bravo for his time with the team. “Obviously Simon did a very good job with us and unfortunately he will not be here this season, but I am looking forward to the partnership with McCullum and myself and the rest of the guys are looking forward to it as well.”
Fast bowler Anderson Phillip also welcomed the hiring of McCullum saying, “McCullum is a good guy, he is a legend. He is a team guy and a fighter of the game, so I am looking forward to working with him as a coach in his new appointed spot.” Phillip said the new coach is someone you can approach. “Brendon is a guy that you could go to at any point in time and ask anything that you need and you will get an answer.”