In an interview to the Cricket Monthly, the former New Zealand captain, who now plays in T20 leagues around the world, said: “I firmly believe that Test cricket won’t be around in time, because there’s only so many teams that can afford to play it.”
McCullum said that he adored Test cricket and for him it was the purest form of the game, but added, “I’m also a realist that people are turning up and watching T20 not just at games but also on TV – society’s changing, isn’t it? People don’t have four or five days to commit to Test cricket. They might watch the first session, and the last session on day five if it’s tight, but they’re not going to then you strip it back a level as well and you think domestically, how can teams around the world afford to even exist?”
McCullum retired from international cricket early in 2016 and currently plays in the IPL, the BBL, the CPL, the PSL and the BPL. He currently lies second on the all-time run scorers’ list in T20, with over 9000 runs, second only to Chris Gayle, who famously said in 2009 that he wouldn’t be sad if Test cricket died out.
“Long long-term, I see a T20 franchise as owning players, and I don’t see them releasing those players to play for their nation in a Test match,” McCullum said.
McCullum is currently in India, playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore, and he is one of only four players (Dwayne Bravo, AB de Villiers and Shane Watson are the others) who have appeared in all 11 seasons of the IPL.
“I don’t buy that you need residual [Test match] skills to be able to then transfer into T20. To me, they’re played with the same instruments but they’re completely separate games. I think once we do separate it even more, then the skill level of T20 cricket will go to a whole new level altogether.”
In the current season of the IPL, McCullum has been low-key, with 127 runs from six games at a strike rate of 144.31, but he thinks he has enough left in the tank for another couple of years.
“I’m invigorated by it, to be honest, the way I’m hitting the ball. So I’ll do that, and then I’d like to transition into some coaching stuff, because I think the IP – especially in T20 – the IP of three hundred and something games is quite valuable, and also I like the idea that I can help people.
“And I think if you’re running an environment, then you have the ability to be able to free guys up, knowing that you have influence over selection and things as well, so the message of freedom and selflessness within an environment, you can actually back [it] up through looking after them and ensuring that they are playing the next game and the game after that and the game after that.
And there was one thing I was proud of with my New Zealand role as well – so there wasn’t an off-tour selector on tour – and the way [New Zealand coach] Mike Hesson and I would work, I’d always have a strong say in that, and we’d always back the guys more than we didn’t back them, and we gave them their freedom and I think they responded because of it. And I think long term it would be nice to be able do that in a T20 environment.”