On being able to sustain your form in all three formats in what was a busy year
It’s something that I’m proud of. I guess it’s nice when you’re getting towards the end of your career, you can still maintain a higher level of consistency. I’ve always tried to border myself on that and tried to be as consistent as possible. Obviously, it’s not as easy, it can’t be done all the time. But, if you can do it as much as possible – help the team or contribute in any sort of way possible – I guess it’s a nice feeling.
Reflecting on some of the emotional moments from last year
It was an emotional time when I was able to do it (breaking Martin Crowe’s record of most centuries for NZ), probably culminated by a poor showing as a team in Australia. But it was nice to have got it even under the circumstances. The 100 Test matches was something that I never thought I’d be able to do. And to be able to do that, walk out with my family is something that I will never forget and probably one of the greatest moments of my career. And to have won that Test match made it extra special.
How long can you keep going? Can you contribute at a high level into your 40s?
I’ll try and get to 39 first. It’s an honour to have received this medal from Sir Richard. We talked a little bit after he presented my medal. He asked me what I could play to and he said 39 and I said there said there are no real excuses because what you did as a bowler is a lot harder than me batting and standing at first slip. He said yes. So, I’ve got no excuses really. He was very upfront with it. But technology and the training, the biggest thing is the hunger, the mental motivation to keep getting better and to improve, if that’s still there, then age is just a number. But at the same time, you’ve still got to earn your place in the team, you don’t want to be just drifting along. Hopefully I can still contribute both on and off the field. As I said, let’s try to get to 38, 39, which would be the next World Cup. We’ll wait and see from there.
How does talking to Alan Burgess (New Zealand’s oldest living First-Class Cricketer) motivate you?
Alan was sharp as a tack. People like that are very inspirational – not only him but his family and how proud his family was of him. It was nice to play a little part in that. You need to have a look at what’s happening at the moment with COVID and lockdown here in New Zealand and around the world. It puts everything into perspective – life, family and everything else. We are living in unprecedented times and it’s a little bit strange. But I guess, you don’t want to take anything for granted. Try to make the most of everything, I guess.
On Tim Southee winning Test player of the year
It’s thoroughly deserved. He was very consistent throughout the whole summer. Bowling is not the easiest. Tim’s getting on there and is finding different ways of prolonging his career, finding different ways of succeeding. Having that experience of him in the line-up has been an invaluable one. It’s testament not only himself but also the other bowlers who have been trucking it. It’s not easy to play Test cricket at the best of times but to come in and bowl as fast and as hard on the body as they do. He is going to be an asset, just hopefully we’ll have to use him a little bit differently in years to come. He is definitely someone we look up to as a team member and as our senior bowler as well.
What do you put your success down to?
As a professional sportsman, we are all motivated by different things. Me, it’s just about getting better each day and knowing that you haven’t succeeded, that’s the drive that keeps me going. The day that you don’t want to get better and you don’t want to learn, that’s the time to give up. That’s one of the big factors. You are supported a lot by your family and friends, you have to sacrifice a lot. Your team members, you spend a lot of time with them, you get to know them very well. Definitely a lot easier when we get on as well as we do as a team to contribute to success. It’s been a pretty amazing 12 months. From the World Cup final, to only having 11 fit players in Sri Lanka, Boxing Day Test, the Sydney one-dayer, I can go through so many others as well. The ups and downs you ride as a player. When these type of awards come around, you don’t want to take it for granted and appreciate the honour that’s bestowed upon you.
How big of an honor is it to be praised by one of our greatest players?
It’s something I will never forget, this is the third time I’ve won it. Out of the three times, I’ve only been presented just once. It’s a little strange. I had a great conversation with Paddles or Sir Richard afterwards. He personally rang me to tell me I was first in the Black Caps. I guess it was nice to hear those words, how he has followed my career. It was an honour to receive it from him. He has been our best cricketer. I’m sure in years to come players will be just as proud as I am to have won it this year.
What motivates you?
I don’t think that it’s one thing in particular, it’s a lot of things. Wanting to get better, wanting to contribute to the team, winning or get a lot of satisfaction also out of seeing young players and even established players succeeding and being able to contribute to that. There’s still a lot to happen over the next few months and years and hopefully I am a part of that going forward.
Can you recall the first phone call you received when you were selected in the New Zealand team?
I was at a UB 40 concert with my wife. Jeff Barnet was in it, played for Central Districts who were playing a game at New Plymouth. Min Patel was our overseas player. I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t really answer the phone call. Went straight to my answering message and wasn’t until after the concert that I….Sir Richard had left a message. I was telling Jeff and Min Patel that I just made the New Zealand team. It wasn’t quite the same as it probably should have been, but I rang him the next morning and it sunk in a bit more once I was talking to Sir Richard.
What were your early ambitions as a player?
I had a pretty decent white-ball record. 20-20 was just coming around. So, I thought I could make it at that level. It wasn’t until a few years later that I got my opportunity for Test cricket and it was baptism by fire. I just wanted to get better the whole time. Sometimes when you go through those hard times, it makes you as a person and a player and it has definitely helped me. Sometimes it’s just the by-product when you score runs. But when the negative stuff that happens in terms of your mindset and press and other stuff that comes about you learn about yourself, who you are and what you’re made of. Sometimes, it’s that type of stuff that means more to you than the other things and know that you’re pretty resilient and cricket can be tough and it’s nice to get out on the other side.