New Zealand captain and opening batsman Brendon McCullum has signed to play for the Birmingham Bears in the 2015 NatWest T20 Blast after agreeing a seven-match deal with the reigning champions.
McCullum (33) is recognised as one of the world's most explosive T20 players and led the Black Caps to the final of ICC Cricket World Cup. He will join up with the Bears following New Zealand's tour of England, with his first game scheduled to be against Lancashire Lightning at Emirates Old Trafford on Friday 26 June.
Dougie Brown, Birmingham Bears Director of Cricket, said: "Brendon's dynamic performances in the ICC Cricket World Cup have demonstrated once again exactly why he is one of the most feared batsmen in the game. Securing his availability for our last seven games has to make him one of the biggest overseas player signings in the competition's history.
His power at the top of the order and experience of playing in big matches are great assets to bolster our already strong squad as we look to win through to the quarter finals and defend our NatWest T20 Blast title."
Birmingham Bears supporters will have the chance to see McCullum in action in three home matches at Edgbaston, including the visits of Derbyshire Falcons, Lancashire Lightning and Northamptonshire Steelbacks.
"It was great to see bigger crowds at Edgbaston for our Friday night NatWest T20 Blast matches last season," Dougie added. "Hopefully the opportunity to see one of the greatest limited overs batsmen of the modern game will ensure that we get even more fans to Edgbaston and supporting the Bears in the new season."
McCullum is the leading run scorer in the history of international T20s, with 2,105 runs at an average of 35.67, including two centuries. He has enjoyed previous spells in England with Sussex Sharks and Glamorgan and was one of the leading run scorers in last year's Indian Premier League, scoring 405 runs for the Chennai Super Kings.
Brendon said: "The Birmingham Bears had a great season last year, including winning the NatWest T20 Blast, and hopefully I can make a big contribution and ensure that we can progress in the tournament.
Edgbaston is a fantastic ground to play at and hopefully it will be rocking for the big Friday night matches. I'm really excited about becoming a Bear and the challenge ahead."