Bowled over by chance to meet hero

Abbotsford School pupil Jacob Gilbert has his cap autographed by New Zealand cricketer Kane Williamson. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Abbotsford School pupil Jacob Gilbert has his cap autographed by New Zealand cricketer Kane Williamson. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Smashing 63 not out in a cricket match last year was Jacob Gilbert's undoubted sporting highlight - until yesterday, when he was given the chance to meet his life-long cricketing hero Brendon McCullum.

The 10-year-old Abbotsford School pupil and cricket fanatic will get to go on the field with McCullum today and toss the coin for the New Zealand v West Indies cricket test at the University Oval in Dunedin.

For Jacob, it was a complete surprise when Black Cap Kane Williamson turned up to the school's assembly yesterday, but an even bigger shock came when he announced Jacob had won the prize.

''Brendon McCullum is my hero. I pretend to be him when I'm batting. I can't wait to meet him.

''Getting 63 not out was a highlight, but this ranks right up there.''

Jacob has played cricket since he was 5 and is a batsman and bowler in the Green Island Cricket Club and Dunedin Metro teams.

He also plays a little rugby, water polo - anything with a ball that moves.

But such is his passion for cricket, he plays constantly out on the front lawn when it is dry; and much to his mother's ire, he plays in the hallway or the lounge when it is wet outside.

Kirsty Gilbert said she and her husband, David, had both learned to become quite good bowlers to keep up with Jacob's batting practice.

Although Jacob can toss a coin, he said he would not be taking any chances, especially with such an important job to do in front of a large crowd.

As soon as he left school yesterday, he said, he was going home to practise coin-tossing.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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