Geenty: From the lowest low to highest high

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 13:53 18/02/2014
McCullum the man
McCullum becomes the first New Zealander to score a Test Match triple century.

Relevant offers

Cricket

Johnstone: Cricket's version of Bring Back Buck Auckland edge out lead over Northern Knights Hong Kong hope to replace Windies at World Cup Jesse Ryder 'too busy' for Black Caps chance Warner closes in on century in test rescue bid Black Caps know sharp improvement is needed Live cricket: Blacks Caps vs South Africa Luke Fletcher one to watch, says Franklin Greg Dawson wins Canterbury rookies' race Fast bowling battle heats up for World Cup

OPINION: Barely three months ago, Brendon McCullum gave the gloomiest interview of his career.

Crippled by a chronic back injury, the New Zealand captain returned from Bangladesh ready to declare his own cricketing innings, the ever-present critics ringing loud in his ears.

Today McCullum stands atop his personal Everest after one of the greatest displays of endurance, concentration and courage in New Zealand sport.

It's all that McCullum deserves after he gritted his teeth and fought the pain, shuffling into cricket's record books and proving his mettle once and for all.

This likeable man's man from Dunedin who answers to "Baz" (his middle name is Barrie) embraces the Kiwi stereotype of rugby (or should that be cricket), racing and beer.

Quick with a cheery greeting or a one-liner, McCullum is almost more comfortable discussing his love of horse racing than discussing cricket.

He has minority shares in several gallopers, one of which, El Doute, is a contender for one of New Zealand's premier races, The Derby, at Ellerslie on March 1.

A win there would almost give McCullum as much of a rush as his Basin epic. A gambler on the field and off it, McCullum's not shy about plonking some of his earnings on a horse he likes.

He seems brash and uber-confident with his swagger, tattooed arms and cheeky grin, but those close to him say it's not all as it seems.

McCullum can wound easily and took some pointed criticism about his commitment to the Black Caps to heart amid his dark days in November.

Giving up the wicketkeeping gloves, and throwing his wicket away were regular favourite topics. Unfairly, he's attracted more than his share over the years via the talkback airwaves and internet forums.

He gives generously. A hopeful text message last year by a parent fundraising for his son's cricket team was greeted by the gift of a McCullum bat to be auctioned off.

His young team-mates clearly worship their leader and would leap the picket fence blindfolded for him.

Same goes for his children; son Riley and daughter Maya, with a third on the way in May.

Young Riley already shows some of the McCullum cricketing gifts. Wife Ellissa, an Australian who met McCullum at a game on his first tour in 2002, is a regular at home games with the children but they stayed at home in the Christchurch suburb of Merivale for this one.

Father Stu was on hand, biting his nails then leaping to his feet on the Cricket Wellington balcony. The former Otago opener's love of a beer and a punt is as legendary as his son's.

McCullum soaked up the plaudits during New Zealand's one-day series win, and deflected them too. Of playing for his country he said: "these are the greatest days of our lives and we should enjoy our success".

McCullum will celebrate hard tonight in much the way he approaches his cricket. Indeed, these past three days have been some of the best of his life.

Ad Feedback

- Fairfax Media

Special offers
Opinion poll

Which batting pair would be best at opening in ODIs for the Black Caps?

Martin Guptill and Jimmy Neesham

Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum

Martin Guptill and Hamish Rutherford

Martin Guptill and Jesse Ryder

Jimmy Neesham and Brendon McCullum

Jimmy Neesham and Hamish Rutherford

Jimmy Neesham and Jesse Ryder

Brendon McCullum and Hamish Rutherford

Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder

Hamish Rutherford and Jesse Ryder

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content