It all starts with a chunk of cork.
Cover that with some tightly wound string and gradually it becomes a spherical shape. At this point you have the hard core of a cricket ball. Following guidelines as provided by the ICC, all the individual components of the ball have to be measured to ensure they weigh the correct amount.
Moving on, four pieces of leather are then placed around the core and stitched together along the ‘equator’ to form what is referred to as the seam. Finally the leather is dyed the relevant colour for the format of the game it will be used for and stamped with the makers name before it is covered with various amounts of polish.
The polish is what allows a ball to be able to swing, so when you lose the toss at the Hagley Oval, and put into bat on a pitch that is guaranteed to have some life in it any captain would fear the worse.
Step forward Brendon McCullum.
Playing in the last test match of his career, the ingredients were there for McCullum to construct the most perfect of farewells.
Playing in his hometown, Christchurch, against next door neighbours and bitter rivals, Australia, could McCullum have asked for a more fitting ending?
And so he epitomised the work he has done at the helm of New Zealand international cricket.
Joining Kane Williamson in the middle with the score at 32 for 3, captain fantastic had a lot of work to do to rebuild the innings to ensure he left the international stage fighting.
So 54 balls later, and another record smashed for the quickest ever test century, all nerves of an embarrassing collapse were long gone.
Finishing on 145 off 79 balls, sixes galore, shots that will begin to define the newest brand of test cricket alongside a fielding side of great accord.
The packed out, picturesque oval had witnessed a true masterclass from one of the all-time greats of the game. It was a perfect day and a perfect way to end one magnificent test career.
What McCullum bought to the Kiwi’s both on and off the field was an icon. An image for all those aspiring young cricketers to look up to. He spear headed one of the biggest cricketing revelations of the twenty-first century, turning his side into an awe-inspiring team.
It began with a whole new take on captaincy.
There was never fear or vulnerability. Confusion or ineptness.
McCullum for want of a better phrase would always ‘grab the bull by the horns.’
Eccentric fielding displays lead by no other than himself, willing to throw himself at any ball regardless of how possible it would be to stop it. He made the impossible possible.
— Allan Donald (@AllanDonald33) February 22, 2016
The willingness to experiment with bowlers, never seen before field settings none more so famous than the 11 around the bat when paying England in 2013.
As an A-grade one day player McCullum had established himself within the elite of the shorter form of the game. It took a while for his pedigree to transfer onto the test format but when he arrived, he did so in style.
He broke countless records, be it most consecutive test matches played, 101, or the fastest to a certain milestone.
Brendon McCullum was the breath of fresh air many test playing nations were wishing to appear.
Combining his attacking one day captaincy methods with the five day test situation, New Zealand became the most entertaining and captivating team to watch.
Normally England fixtures versus New Zealand would gather roughly half a ground of spectators as they struggled to be classified as one of the major test playing nations alongside the likes of Australia, South Africa and India.
Yet since the appointment of McCullum (as captain) and head coach Mike Hesson, the duo have put together a scintillating squad with a style of play that drew crowds out on mass, selling out the first four days at Lords, selling out the 50-over games emphasising the attraction the Kiwi’s had glowing off their recent success.
The success of the whole side and especially the coaching and captaincy was magnified by reaching the ODI final, to which they fell to the hands of Australia. Take nothing away from the Kiwi’s however, it was a tournament to be proud of.
Reviving one of the best and most attractive cricketing nations no doubt has a lot to owe to the work of Brendon McCullum.
Leading by example and leading from the front.
A great player and an even better asset for the game who will be missed on the pitch by all of the cricketing community