Backing his school prodigy



England’s new Kiwi cricket coach, Brendon McCullum, won’t be the only New Zealander  willing his new team to beat his old team when the sides clash in a Test series in London this week.

The former Black Caps captain’s schoolboy coach, Queenstowner John Cushen, admits he’d
also like to see McCullum win his first series, while adding, ‘‘that doesn’t sound very loyal, does it?’’

An aggressive former first-class fast bowler who captained the NZ under-60s side in 2018, Cushen was teaching at Dunedin’s King’s High when he picked a pint-sized third former in his First XI.







Even in those early days, he says ‘‘I was just so inspired by the way [McCullum] always believed he could win, so if I’d beaten that out of him, I would have done NZ cricket a huge disservice’’.

Cushen modestly says he ‘‘wouldn’t rate my influence on him’’.

He calls McCullum ‘‘a special guy’’.

‘‘He remembers every step of the ladder that got him quite high, and he appreciates that, I can’t give anyone a better accolade.’’

He’s ‘‘absolutely thrilled’’ to see his former student score his new role — ‘‘England’s the winner’’.

‘‘He’s got a vision, he’s got integrity, he will bring the players along.

‘‘He’s not going to go in and demand things, they will want to do that for him.

‘‘He’ll bring hardness but also it will be fun.’’

Cushen says it doesn’t matter that McCullum’s not coached red-ball cricket before.

‘‘What’s the difference between coaching a red ball or white ball or coaching a basketball team, it’s all about people management.’’

When the new England coach takes a break in years to come, he may pop up in Queenstown, having been an early purchaser of a Gibbston Valley Resort holiday