How New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum chose cricket over rugby

Brendon McCullum
Sir Richard Hadlee played a major role in preventing McCullum from becoming an All Black
Ram Kumar
Modified 17 Feb 2016

Brendon McCullum is set to bid adieu to international cricket after the 2nd Test in Christchurch. However if fate had not intervened, he might not have even been on the cricket field. NZHerald reported that the talismanic captain grew up playing rugby and was even picked ahead of the iconic Dan Carter for his school team.

McCullum has represented the Kiwis in over 400 international matches and scored more than 14000 runs across all formats of the game. He is credited to have overseen New Zealand’s resurgence as a team with his flamboyant and aggressive captaincy skills. The 34-year old led the Blackcaps to their maiden appearance in the finals of the ICC World Cup.

At a time when tributes are pouring in from all corners, it has been revealed that Brendon was not far away from crafting a career in rugby. A former teammate of his at the junior level mentioned his expertise in the other ball game.

He used to play awesome footy in 2000: World Cup Rugby winner

Luke Tweed who played under McCullum for King's High School rugby unit said, “I was at the same trials for that South Island secondary schools team and he made the team as the first-choice first-five ahead of Carter.”

Tweed added, “I know at the time that was a real big decision for him - to turn his back on rugby and concentrate solely on cricket.“ The scrapping school team had punched above its weight in the Otago tournament by vaulting into the final four. Even though they were later disqualified for fielding an ineligible player, the team made their mark on the national rugby scene.

Dan Carter, multiple World Cup winner for the All-Blacks quipped, “That year, 2000, he was playing some awesome footy, so I spent a fair bit of time on the bench.” Carter also spoke about McCullum’s excellent hand-eye co-ordination which made him a natural at rugby.

Ironically enough, ‘BMac’ is acknowledged to have brought cricket back into public acclaim in a country which is famous for its rugby passion. This is evident from the huge crowds that the current cricket team draws in the scenic country.

It is worth noting that former pace-bowling stalwart Sir Richard Hadlee went to great lenghts in shifting McCullum’s attention from rugby to cricket. Hadlee even prevented Brendon’s friends from lending him rugby boots.

McCullum, the only triple-centurion from New Zealand in Tests, plays his final match at the Hagley Oval from 20th to 24th of this month. He will hope that his team can send him out on a high by leveling the 2-match series.

Published 17 Feb 2016
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