New Zealand news June 27, 2010

McCullum gives up keeping in Tests

Cricinfo staff

Brendon McCullum has announced that he will give up keeping wicket for New Zealand in Tests alone, in order to prolong his international career. McCullum had earlier toyed with the idea of hanging up the gloves in limited-overs cricket and playing as a specialist batsman, but realised the best way forward was to sacrifice his dual role in the game's longest format.

McCullum, who will continue to keep in one-dayers and Twenty20s, said he consulted experts before making his decision. "I have talked to a lot of people about how they went about extending their international careers, including some prominent former and current wicketkeepers," McCullum said. "I am passionate about playing for the Blackcaps (New Zealand) and by limiting my keeping to the shorter forms of the game it increases my chances of prolonging my career."

Geoff Allott, former fast bowler and now general manager of cricket in the New Zealand board, said it was a positive step for the long run.

"Brendon enjoys the challenge of Test cricket and has been a strong performer for New Zealand as a keeper over a significant period of time," Allott said. "While his glove work will be missed, we understand and support his decision to focus his attention on scoring runs at Test level, and his objective to play on the international cricket stage for as long as possible. It is great to know he will continue to keep wickets in limited-overs cricket.

"We need to work with players such as Brendon to ensure they stay fit and available for selection, with particular attention paid to those with heavy playing schedules."

Mark Greatbatch, the chairman of selectors, said the committee had no problems with McCullum's decision, and added that only his form as a batsman will be considered for future Test selections.

"Brendon has stated he wants to play cricket for New Zealand for as long as possible and that is really encouraging. I know he has had trouble with injuries that are related to keeping, and therefore understand his decision to stop keeping in Test cricket," Greatbatch said. "But Brendon clearly understands he will only be considered as a Test batsman on his long-form batting performances."

McCullum has been a destructive opener in limited-overs games. In the last two years, he has scored two centuries and five fifties in one-dayers but his returns in T20s are relatively better, with one century and six fifties. New Zealand's top order has struggled for consistency in all formats, and McCullum intended to focus on adding more stability to it. He too struggled to maintain his consistency in Tests as a batsman, but he remained New Zealand's first-choice wicketkeeper. With the latest development, Gareth Hopkins could fill the keeper's slot in Tests.