Brendon McCullum no longer listens to the little devil on his shoulder.
Instead it’s a desire to lead his country’s cricket team by example that takes precedence, something borne out in New Zealand’s remarkable Test draw with India in Wellington.
The Black Caps skipper admits he has never enjoyed a better cricket experience than on Tuesday at the Basin Reserve when he completed one of the great Test knocks in becoming New Zealand’s first triple century-maker.
That innings of 302 guided them to safety and to a 1-0 series win he says he will treasure.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that before, that’s something I’ll hold onto for the rest of my life,” he said.
“All the tough times and tough periods you go through when you’re out of form and you’re just trying to keep the faith are worth it now.”
The Test, which will be remembered for New Zealand’s titanic and record-breaking batting rearguard, ended early when India reached 3-166 in their second innings.
They never pursued the unrealistic 435 required to win after New Zealand declared their second innings at 680-8 just before lunch.
The tourists stuttered to 2-12 and 3-54 before Virat Kohli (105no) scored a sixth Test ton to spare any potential blushes.
Earlier, New Zealand allrounder James Neesham zoomed to an unbeaten 137, the highest Test score by a debut No.8 batsman.
However, even that was pushed into the background by the climax of McCullum’s 13-hour vigil, which he regarded as a landmark innings.
“You want to lead from the front as captain and I haven’t always done that.
“The team needs the captain to be a strong person who enjoys other people’s success and sees the bigger picture. That’s what I tried to do when I wasn’t scoring many runs but at some stage you have to step up yourself.”
McCullum has built his reputation on bludgeoning limited overs bowlers.
He was primarily a Test wicketkeeper in the first part of his career, meaning loose shots “were allowed”.
Not any more, he says, although he chuckled when asked if he had purged the “little devil on his shoulder” who would whisper it was time to hit out.
“No, definitely not. It was there for 550 balls during this innings but I’ve found a way in the last couple of tests to manage it.
“There’s times I’m going to get out playing shots that don’t look great. The big change I’ve made is picking the right shots to the right balls because I trust my defence.”
McCullum shared a world record sixth-wicket partnership of 352 with wicketkeeper BJ Watling (124) and the New Zealand total was the highest by any team in their second innings of a Test.
In passing Martin Crowe’s previous national record score of 299, McCullum became the 24th player to reach 300.
The 32-year-old set up the first Test win in Auckland a week ago with his 224 and is just the third player after Australian icon Don Bradman and English great Walter Hammond to score double and triple centuries in successive Tests.