July 23, 2002

Brendon McCullum takes Darwin by storm

Cyclone Brendon has just left Darwin, with the record books trailing in his dust.

TelstraClear Black Caps one-day player Brendon McCullum has just completed a barn-storming run through Northern Territory club cricket.

On Saturday, he convinced an already admiring Darwin cricket public that he had the goods while scoring 250 not out in just less than 100 balls at the end of a two-day game for his Palmerston Cricket Club side.

Northern Territory operations manager Wally Major said definite figures were not available for the innings but it was achieved during a record-breaking fourth-wicket stand of 267 runs. It beat the previous record of 197.

The score is also believed to be the highest achieved in grade cricket in the Territory.

Peter Sleep held the previous record of 236 while Richie Robinson scored two double centuries during his career but neither was near the score McCullum achieved.

McCullum told Major that he had been batting under instructions to play as if it was a one-day game and so he set targets of how he should be scoring despite the fact that fields were set as they would be in normal play.

While he has been in Darwin, McCullum has had scores of 11, 33 not out when chasing 40 to win in four overs, 135, 60, 66 and 250 not out. He was averaging 146.00.

He has left Darwin now and has gone to Sydney for some wicket-keeping coaching with former New Zealand coach Steve Rixon, who will also be working with McCullum on other aspects of his game.

Major said McCullum had made a big impression in Darwin.

"He's a nice lad, a very exciting player and was very popular at his club. We're sure we'll hear a lot more about him in the future, especially if he can curb his natural brilliance for Test cricket as well," he said.

"Our first XI is a fair side. McCullum's done better than Mathew Sinclair when he was here a few years ago.

McCullum has continued the pattern of New Zealand Cricket using Darwin as a winter base for players and it is something Northern Territory officials are delighted about.

"We are so far divorced and isolated from the rest of Australia that we don't see New Zealanders as the enemy. We are a developing state in terms of cricket and we know that our dry season is in New Zealand's winter.

"There are incredible possibilities in the future. We started out with one full-time officer about 15 years ago and it is only in the last five or six years that we have had a staff of five or six.

"We are delighted that New Zealand see possibilities here and we are in the planning stages of having eight players and a coach over here next year. We would have one player go to each of our clubs and they would work with their coach during the week," he said.

Another New Zealander Kyle Mills has just arrived in Darwin to play some games in his bid to compete for a place in the side to go to the ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka.

New Zealand Cricket's sports science medical co-ordinator Warren Frost said that no decision had been made about whether McCullum would keep wickets this year.

"Because of what we worked on last year he didn't do a lot of strengthening work. He has been on a protocol to achieve that and we will have a look at how he has done before a decision is made.

"He's working with Steve Rixon on several aspects of his game, mainly because he gets on quite well with him," Frost said.