Amidst the cauldron of fierce competition, Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum has emerged as one of the most successful and innovative leaders in international cricket.
Humble, unselfish, level-headed and a fantastic leader by example on the field, Brendon has carried the New Zealand cricket side through a sometimes difficult and always challenging era. His all-round performance at this year’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand and Australia was the apex of an outstanding 13-year international career.
In the face of friction, controversy and even tragedy that comes part and parcel with modern-day cricket, Brendon has stood firm, fair and compassionate, showing the high level of maturity that is reflected in his exceptional leadership.
Although by his own admission he was not an enthusiastic school student in Dunedin, he has matured to become an entrepreneur, a visionary and a revered leader in world sport, who is never afraid to learn and improve.
Brendon was first marked out as a leader in 2000, when appointed captain of the New Zealand under-19 cricket side. But since being named captain of the Black Caps in late 2012, his reputation as an incisive and inspirational leader has soared.
Under his captaincy, New Zealand has risen from the bottom of the pile in Test and One Day International rankings to become the most improved team in the world. The Black Caps climbed to third on both the ODI and the Test ladders this year.
He has led the side to unprecedented success – from some encouraging progress through 2013, to a record five Test victories in 2014 while not losing a series. He then guided the Black Caps to a coveted place in the final of the Cricket World Cup – the highest accomplishment of a New Zealand team in the 40-year history of the tournament.
During this glorious period, Brendon has led by example out in the middle, with a string of stellar record-breaking performances with the bat.
In the past year alone, he became the first New Zealander to score a triple century in a test match; the first test batsman since the 1930s to score a double century and a triple century in consecutive tests; and the first New Zealander to score more than 200 on four occasions and to score 1000 runs in a calendar year. He also became our fastest test century-maker.
As a captain, Brendon is renowned for empowering his players – giving them licence to attack and be innovative. His reading and analysis of the game, combined with his revolutionary tactics in the field and with the ball, have earned critical acclaim for changing the way the game is played. His decision-making philosophy has also provided countless opportunities for his team-mates around him to flourish.
Brendon’s leadership has also stood out for its compassion, goodwill and sportsmanship. The manner in which his team conducted themselves on the field, sometimes in the face of great provocation, drew widespread praise – to the extent his team were applauded after the World Cup tournament for, not just a fine performance in qualifying for the final, but for setting new standards of honour and integrity for others to aspire to.
His efforts marshalling his side in Sharjah under the heavy shadow of the death of Australian batsman Phil Hughes in late 2014 also marked him out as a leader.
Brendon has also demonstrated leadership in the fight against corruption in sport, agreeing to testify against a team-mate in the interests of the integrity of cricket, and upholding the principles of the game’s anti-corruption philosophy.
When he became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours, Brendon described the distinction as significant for both the Black Caps and the game of cricket.
Outside of the sport, Brendon has also pioneered and created a horse-breeding, training and racing business, Vermair Racing, and is a principle of exporting business, Quality NZ. He is also a shareholder in cricket social network company, CricHQ.
A devoted family man, Brendon takes any chance he can to spend time with his wife, Ellissa, and their three young children.
Brendon is always happy to make himself accessible to the public, whether it be on the golf course, the mall or at the airport, always obliging with photographs, autographs and a friendly chat. It is no wonder that he is regarded as a tremendous role model - for future cricketers and great New Zealanders.