Former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum feels that Shubman Gill’s story is somewhere similar to the one of current Black Caps’ skipper Kane Williamson, where the latter, similarly, was termed as the 'next big thing'. McCullum also opined that the WTC final will go in New Zealand's favour.
On the eve of the marquee clash of the World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand, former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum has hailed Indian opener Shubman Gill for his gifted talent and has found the youngster's starting journey similar to that of Kane Williamson.
Mccullum recalled the days when Williamson made his debut in 2010 and how people had touted him to become one of the greatest New Zealand players. The Kolkata Knight Riders head coach, who has now managed Gill for one and a half-season, feels that the 21-year-old has been talked of similarly and opined that the talented opener could become a ‘very good’ international player for a sustained period of time.
"Similar to how we spoke about Kane Williamson. When he came on to the scene he was spoken about as being able to become one of New Zealand's greatest if not the greatest by the end of his career," McCullum said of Gill, reported India Today.
"Shubman might not be able to scale those lofty heights because you have had some of the game's greats like Sachin Tendulkar. But you've got someone there who could become a very good international player for a long period of time and gives you a good option at the top of the order in the WTC."
Gill made a sparkling debut in Australia, where he scored 259 runs at an average of 51.80 and a strike rate of 60.66. His phenomenal knock of 91, in the decisive Gabba Test, laid the foundation for India’s chase of 328 runs and helped them win the series. The hype around the youngster has been incessant, and McCullum acknowledged the same. However, the KKR coach stressed that the 21-year-old is far from being a finished product.
“I’ve been bullish about Shubman Gill, he is already a very good cricketer. The hardest thing for Shubman is that, because he is such a talent, so many people want to help him. They want to be aligned with him and be part of the Shubman Gill story because everyone sees he is going to go down as one of India's greatest players. I can't speak highly enough of him, I find him a player with a tremendous aura around him. He is not the finished product, but he has got a gift not many people have,” McCullum stated.
Under the leadership of McCullum, the Kiwis reached the final of the 2015 World Cup, but despite the Blackcaps yet to win an ICC trophy, the former New Zealand skipper backed Kane Williamson’s side to lift the WTC trophy. The 39-year-old believes that the Kiwis have a slight edge due to the ample match-practice they’ve had heading into the one-off contest.
"I think 60-40 in favour of New Zealand. It's going to be close. The match practice that New Zealand are going to have leading into the final could just title it in their way. I think it's going to be close," McCullum further said.
"Just as New Zealand respects India, as a fan, I will respect India, knowing how good they are and the fighting spirit they have. I think we are in for a ripping World Test Championship final. May the best team win and the best game," he added.