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Brendon McCullum launches tirade against KKR batsmen for batting too slow

Brendon McCullum launches tirade against KKR batsmen for batting too slow

Brendon McCullum launches tirade against KKR batsmen for batting too slow

Dejected after the Kolkata Knight Riders' fifth defeat on the trot, New Zealand's swashbuckling batsman Brendon McCullum, who is now coaching Kolkata, was not amused by the slow strike rate of his top order. The likes of Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill and Rahul Tripathi batted slowly against Delhi Capitals as Kolkata lost by seven wickets.

McCullum has been trying to instil fearlessness and an uninhibited approach towards batting in his apprentices but he has been let down by batsmen who haven't been able to deliver the goods and as a result, Kolkata finds itself in a spot of bother. Fuming on his team's insipid performance and the latest defeat against Delhi Capitals, McCullum criticized the lack of intent and aggression from batters as the reasons behind KKR's torrid campaign.

"It's very, very disappointing. I think as a player, you ask to be given freedom and confidence and loyalty when it comes to selection, to go out there and take the game on and try and be aggressive... and to try and make things happen for your team. That's the style of play which both myself and the captain (Eoin Morgan) have asked of our players. But unfortunately, we're not quite getting that. We're certainly not getting it in the abundance that we need," said McCullum.

The former Kiwi batsman, in his scathing report, pointed how it has become a pattern to see batsmen struggle to play big shots and time has come to make changes to the side because he is not getting his message across and unable to get desired results.

"What we saw from Prithvi Shaw tonight was the perfect template of how we want to play. You're not always going to be able to hit every ball for four or six, but you can have the intent to do so, particularly when you're given a free licence. It's very difficult if you don't play shots to score runs, and unfortunately tonight we didn't play enough shots. It's become a bit of a theme. A saying that I've used throughout my career is that 'If you can't change a man, change the man.' So we'll probably have to make some changes and try and bring in some fresh personnel who will hopefully take the game on a bit more," McCullum added.

McCullum emphasised the need for his top order to score briskly and make full use of the field restrictions inside the powerplay overs. He lamented the lack of boundaries and inability to put pressure on the opposition with coruscating strokeplay.

"Look, on a slow surface you've really got to maximise the new ball and the fielding restrictions," he said. "One thing we have to get our heads around is that in T20 cricket, you've got to part from the old-school mentality of trying to find a boundary and then get a one. You've got to try and put some pressure back on the opposition bowlers. If you get a boundary, then look for another, and then look for another one. If you're able to do that, then the opposition bowler is under an immense amount of pressure and normally what happens then is they don't execute. Then you can have big overs, and that allows you to be able to build into an innings, create those partnerships and those sizeable platforms," he added.

In his spate of criticism, McCullum mentioned how he has been repeatedly asking the batters to be more aggressive and expressive but the players haven't been able to apply that on the field which leaves the coach no option but to make wholesale changes.

"It's very difficult if you're not trying to look for boundaries for that to happen. So it's more of an application thing than it is anything else. It's incredibly disappointing because I've asked time and time again for us to be more aggressive and more expressive and take the game on, and we continue to not do it. So we're going to have to make some changes for sure."

Kolkata will consider giving Venkatesh Iyer, Karun Nair, Sheldon Jackson or Gurkeerat Singh a shot in the upcoming fixtures as the team looks to end their losing spree and halt wretched batting performances. Even the West Indian star batsman Andre Russell couldn't live up to his credo which paints a bleak picture for the IPL franchise. McCullum wants Andre to bat in the last eight overs so which will require the other batsmen to set a platform for Andre to tee off and inflict maximum carnage.

"I had a conversation with Andre (Russell) at the start of the season. We look at a lot of stats and facts and try to back what's the best place for him. Ideally with the right platform, beyond 12 is what we agreed on, but there are times when he's going to have to come in a little bit earlier. Today he came in slightly earlier. It actually allowed him to settle a little bit, but he really couldn't play with the same freedom, because we had fallen into a bit of a hole. It was only his brutal power towards the end which allowed us to post any sort of total.

"The other day he came in, the game against Chennai, the game was so far beyond us, he was able to come in and just try and take the game on. He has that ability. But I think, ideally, from 12 overs onwards is where he can do the most amount of damage with the least amount of risk. So it's really up to the rest of our guys to provide him with a better platform rather than asking him to do too much," he said.

Kolkata will lock horns with Royal Challengers Bangalore on May 3 and look to get things right with changes in personnel expected in their next encounter.