Lindisfarne College cricketer Sam Ferguson has won a scholarship through Brendon McCullum's company, Vermair.
Ferguson, who will receive free gear through the deal, is hoping the scholarship will come with some elite coaching lessons.
"Brendon will be phoning us to congratulate us," says the 16-year-old, who also had another Australian cricket manufacturing firm approach him following his memorable stint with the Central Districts Under-17 team during the New Zealand Cricket age-group nationals staged at Lincoln, near Christchurch, late last month.
CD U17s, with Whanganui's Sam Sherriff at the helm as captain, lost to Auckland by five wickets in the final at Bert Sutcliffe Oval. It was Auckland's three-peat and it also completed an age-group hat-trick for the region's men's under-19 and women's under-21 crowns this season.
However, Ferguson, who finished the tournament's leading run scorer with 418 runs from six innings, still can't stop raving on about the quality of wickets at Lincoln.
"The wicket was something I had never played on before. It was really incredible and the outfield was just like carpet," he says, finding any balls he had cracked through the field just kept going to the ropes.
Ferguson carved up an unbeaten 200 runs and 144 in consecutive games, after Sherriff won five tosses, although Wellington had beaten CD by 63 runs when the Duckworth-Lewis Method kicked in.
"Coming back to Hawke's Bay the wickets just don't feel the same," says the Year 13 pupil.
"You crunch one through the covers and you're just standing there waiting for it to go for a four."
The right hander says shots here tend to clear the 30m circle compared with Lincoln where the balls race to the ropes.
"I've never played on any other grounds like Lincoln before, it's just incredible."
The former Hawke's Bay under-15 to under-17 representative was making his debut for the CD side
"I felt technique is something that has to be worked out from the game but once you're in the game you kind of have to forget about it and just trust your ability.
The No 2 batsman says his cut shots were his best but he often takes a calculated risk to free up his arms.
"Hitting the ball over the top of the bowlers' heads was working pretty well for me as well."
He is quite content with working the spinners around for singles and punishing any loose deliveries.
However, tourney top wicket-taker Adithya Ashok, who claimed 17 scalps which included a 6-12, had his number.
"He was really good. He got me with a great wrong'un — a slider through the gate," he says of the left-arm wrist spinner who got him for a duck.
But the opener's methodology was pretty straightforward.
"I was just looking to go as hard as I could and get as many runs as I could."
Ferguson says the team environment was fantastic, with players from the scattered CD region forging ties via social media well after the tourney ended.
CD U17 coach Dilan Raj, of Whanganui, always backed him in the tourney, never putting pressure on him while Luke Toynbee, of Nelson, was a top team manager.
"He was always preparing us well for the games and I thought he was a very good coach," he says of Raj.
The former Hereworth School pupil is hoping to make the CD under-19 squad and feels the scholarship is a timely catalyst.
CD Stags and Reynard Health Supplies Havelock North CC premier club batsman Bradley Schmulian is his coach.
Ferguson played his maiden premier club match for the villagers after Christmas as opener, making 12 runs before he was caught.
Ferguson is under Schmulian's tutelage twice a week.
Schmulian, who was playing for CD A against their Auckland counterparts in the Big Smoke this week, says there's no doubting his protege's talent.
"He showing a lot of promise," he says.
"He used to bat in the middle order so he's moved up and he's taking that in his stride and really doing a great job."
Regular Lindisfarne first XI opening batsman Fergus Whyte was unavailable for a few games so Ferguson put his hand up as legs pinner in the team late last year.
With Whyte having graduated from the school at the end of last year, Ferguson has assumed the mantle of opening batsman this year, after Jack Hammond had slipped to first drop to allow the former pair to continue opening for the Harry Mowat-captained side last year.
Ferguson hopes to travel to England to play there in a gap year after finishing high school because parents Kate and Robin are from Manchester.
Born in Palmerston North, he settled with his family in the Bay when he was 8.