Playing cricket came naturally to Nathan McCullum. His dad Stuart had a prolonged first-class career with Otago as a left-handed batsman who also kept wickets. Meanwhile, his younger brother Brendon achieved stardom – as a Blackcaps player and captain – in an illustrious international career which spanned nearly 14 years.
Cricket has not been the only common denominator between the McCullum brothers who both tried their hands at different spots before settling down to focus on the game between bat and ball. Brendon was a promising rugby player in his younger days and even started ahead of former All Blacks star and multiple World Player of the Year Dan Carter for his high school team.
Nathan, on the other hand, took to football and was a prolific striker for Caversham AFC in the Football South Premier League. It was only in 2004 that he switched his attention completely to cricket before earning his Blackcaps debut in 2007. Even after his retirement in 2016, the younger McCullum sibling had one last stab at football and returned to the pitch with Auckland division two outfit Ellerslie Diamonds.
Now, the sporting days are firmly in the past for Nathan McCullum who has found a new calling as the general manager of Auckland based construction firm Total Property Vorx. It is perhaps the reason why he was invited by the New Zealand Consulate in Dubai to promote the country’s pavilion for the upcoming Expo 2020.
It was not alien territory for the former Blackcaps all-rounder who took out time to meet starry-eyed construction workers at the pavilion. With many of the workers being huge cricket fans, a selfie with McCullum was highly in demand at the construction site.
“I moved into recruitment before taking up the role of general manager,” McCullum told Sport360 in an exclusive chat during his Dubai visit.
“We do commercial and industrial work. It has been amazing to come here and see the New Zealand pavilion being built for Expo 2020. Obviously it’s a completely different scale and magnitude here altogether, so that has been interesting to see the construction workers in action.”
While many cricketers have chosen to remain involved with the sport post-retirement, McCullum was always of the view that his future lay in management.
“I always knew I wanted to get into management and leadership where I can lead a team of people. It has managed to forge into what it is today, working in construction,” he said.
“It has been pretty amazing so far. I have a great team around me, some great people and we have some amazing clients. It has sort of all fallen into place really but I always knew that I wanted to work around a team of people.
“The next phase of my career has definitely started.”
The 39-year-old made a total of 147 appearances for New Zealand over the course of his career, with all of them coming exclusively in the limited-overs formats. While it was younger brother Brendon who enjoyed a more prominent international career, Nathan had his moments too in a Blackcaps jersey.
Primarily an off-spinner, McCullum could also wield the bat to good effect. He was a crucial part of New Zealand’s march to the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup. The highlight of his career came in 2013 in Hambantota in an ODI against Sri Lanka when the right-hander smashed 22 runs off the final four deliveries to seal a thrilling four-wicket win.
While his white-ball credentials are as sound as they come, a Test cap for New Zealand managed to elude McCullum throughout his career. The former all-rounder, however, has no regrets.
“No, not really (on having any regrets),” he replied.
“I played a number of games for New Zealand in the ODI and T20 formats and I was privileged enough to do that. The limited-overs formats were actually my strength and it was a great honour to put on the Blackcaps shirt every single time.
“I loved every minute of my time with them and had some great moments along the way.”
During that rampage in Hambantota, McCullum carted wily Sri Lanka spinner Rangana Herath for three sixes and a boundary in what is definitely his most famous contribution in a Blackcaps shirt. Soon, the New Zealander will be up against another Lankan spinner – the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan being opponent this time.
Muralitharan and former Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardane are the two wild card picks for the All Blacks stars in an upcoming match which takes place on January 17 in Napier. The T20 match sees former All Blacks such as Richie McCaw and the Barrett brothers take on a team of former Blackcaps stalwarts, including Stephen Fleming and Daniel Vettori.
“I thought I had finished having to face Murali! It will be great to catch up with both of those guys, I really enjoyed playing against them,” McCullum said on the upcoming match.
“It should be a great game, with the rugby stars and all the Blackcaps getting together. We had a great time last year and it was a fantastic spectacle. It should be another great game this time around and will be great for New Zealand.”
The Black Clash will be a brief, but welcome distraction from a new career in the construction industry and it is one McCullum is determined to succeed in. He was never the biggest turners of the ball in his cricketing days, but his acumen and fighting spirit allowed him to make the most of his talents at international level.
An under-rated spinner who could maintain an excellent economy in both formats, McCullum finished his career with 121 international scalps. This, despite getting his ODI debut only at the ripe age of 27.
His never-say-die attitude was always evident on the cricket pitch and it won’t come as any surprise to see him go far in the latest phase of his professional career.
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