24 Dec 2015

Praise heaped on McCullum

12:05 pm on 24 December 2015

Praise is being heaped on Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum, who announced on Tuesday he is retiring from international cricket.

Brendon McCullum celebrates 300 runs during day 5 of the 2nd International Test cricket match between New Zealand and India in Wellington at the Basin Reserve on February 18, 2014.

The moment Brendon McCullum celebrated 300 runs at the Basin Reserve, February 18, 2014. Photo: AFP

McCullum, who has played 99 successive Tests for New Zealand since making his debut in 2004, will retire at the end of the two-Test series against Australia in February.

McCullum's former Black Caps coach Mark Greatbatch said what impressed him most about McCullum was his willingness to get better.

"Five or six years ago I think he was a good player and I think he worked really hard and I think he matured into a very very good player internationally and for New Zealand so it was nice to see him develop his game."

McCullum had come a long way from the aggressive big basher Greatbatch remembered him as back in his 20s.

"What I liked was that he was able to bat long periods of time later on in his career and score four 200s and one of those was a 300 so to be able to do that you've got to be able to develop your game and got better which is a real credit to him."

Black Caps coach Mike Hesson said he would miss his partnership with McCullum, who holds New Zealand's highest Test score of 302.

The pair had been at the heart of the Black Caps' unprecedented success over the last couple of years.

Hesson said the 34-year-old was crucial to their World Cup ride earlier this year.

"He was the man that obviously led the troops out in the middle and you know dictated the game from the front you know with bat and also in the field sort of dictating the way we operated. When he moves on he will be a huge loss for us but you know really fortunate to have worked with him for a decent period of time."

Hesson said McCullum should be applauded for the way he sparked a new appreciation of the game in New Zealand.

"Brendon has brought a new lease on life in all forms of the game in New Zealand and cricket and I think he needs to be... respected for that, he's been amazing. I think the guys, when he passed on the message that he was retiring, were you know looking back on a pretty fond era."

Former team-mate Jacob Oram said McCullum's impact on New Zealand cricket in the past three years was unparalleled.

Oram said McCullum's ability to bring the best out of his team made him one of a kind.

"Guys like Anderson, and Neesham, Boult and Southee, and Milne and Ronchi in the one day arena... Latham, all these guys seem to have gone to another level under him. You could even argue Kane [Williamson] in the last couple of years ... Kane's gone to another level in the last couple of years under Brendon's captaincy."

Oram, who played in 33 Tests and 160 One-Day international matches for New Zealand, said now was the right time for McCullum to step aside.

McCullum said he still loved the game he had played professionally for over a decade.

The 34-year-old believed the Black Caps were in good shape moving forward.