Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Don't try this at home, kids

Brendon McCullum is congratulted by his family after his world-record innings against Australia. Photo / Getty
Brendon McCullum is congratulted by his family after his world-record innings against Australia. Photo / Getty

Kids, don't try this at home. And the adults running New Zealand cricket should also beware.

Brendon McCullum's approach to his career is not to be copied. Time to firmly close that drawer, and open another.

There will only ever be one Bazza, like there will only ever be one Jonah Lomu. Sensational, erratic, a crowd thriller, over-rated, under-rated, hard to judge...they apply to both of these amazing men. One thing is for sure. Their legacies will always be writ large, a tag which applies to very few.

McCullum's world speed record century against Australia was both staggering and lucky. He could have been out at any moment - and luckily for us he wasn't. Those who saw it will remember that day at Hagley Oval forever.

But it's not the recommended way to make a living out of cricket, unless you are Brendon McCullum. And it's not the recommended way forward for New Zealand either.

For every swish of the McCullum bat, you also had to recall recent events, like the silly way opener Martin Guptill got out just when he was on the way to leading a rescue act in Wellington. New Zealand's test batsmen are still struggling to find that happy medium, pulled one way by their captain's swagger, and another by the law of averages. New Zealand has been found out, found wanting, in this five test blast against Australia.

People love the way McCullum had the courage to wield his blazing bat while giving the traditionalists a two fingered salute. But he took it too far even for his own good, couldn't totally master it. He could have been an Adam Gilchrist or David Warner or Matthew Hayden, but chose to be a Brendon McCullum instead. Indeed, there's every chance that cricket lovers might have spent Sunday lambasting McCullum for giving his wicket away.

McCullum batted his way and it's been fun, amazing fun, while it lasted. But McCullum was a one off.

The great thing about Australian cricket in the last decade or more is the way they have upped the run rate AND their averages. To get carried away with McCullum's influence on cricket is to forget what Australians, and a few other players around the world, have achieved in recent times.

But whereas judging characters like Richard Hadlee, Richie McCaw, Irene van Dyk and co. is easy, taking on McCullum is another matter. Compared to others and his own real potential, his stunning best came only in patches. McCullum raised the bar of risk and now is the time to lower it. He achieved some amazing things, united the national side, stuffed a few things up, and gets to ride of into the sunset a huge hero.

We wouldn't have had it any other way, in a way. The magic has rubbed off on all of us. What he did on Saturday was out of this world. Truly, absolutely, incredibly stunning.

But Australia are grinding their way to the Kiwi total, in that sure-footed way they often do, as I write this. The Aussies have won three of the previous tests, and New Zealand's tour of England last year did not work out to plan. Time for a re-boot.

***

What on earth did Jerome Kaino have for breakfast? Tana Umaga has had a rocky start, so to speak, to his Super Rugby coaching career with captain Kaino being sent off for a big punch to his fellow World Cup medal winner, the Chiefs prop Pauliasi Manu. The trial game incident means Kaino will miss the opening Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders, and he's lucky the suspension was only for one week. It was a decent punch, and worthy of a longer stand down period. The Blues and Highlanders open the Super Rugby season at Eden Park on Friday night and Kaino needed to be there.

- NZ Herald

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