McCullum hits 300
Brendon McCullum knocked the bastard off.
Where Martin Crowe once failed to climb what he dubbed his "Everest", McCullum managed it, becoming the first New Zealand to score a triple century in test cricket, when he guided a delivery from India's Zaheer Khan through gully for four at the Basin Reserve this morning.
In doing so, it gave him the highest individual score by a New Zealander in test cricket, going past the 299 Crowe also made on the Basin, against Sri Lanka in 1991.
But that's not the extent of McCullum's new place in the game's history.
Not since Donald Bradman and Walter Hammond in the 1930s, has a player ever scored double and triple centuries in consecutive tests.
McCullum's name is now on that three-man list, having made 224 against India at Eden Park in the previous game, putting him among some elite company in the annals of test cricket.
It took McCullum 557 balls to get to 300 and he was gone two balls later. Not that anyone cared.
It seemed as if the game might never resume once the keen punter bagged his treble. McCullum might've wanted to face up again, but the crowd were intent on standing and applauding as long as possible.
They got their chance soon after, when Zaheer had the New Zealand captain caught behind. McCullum looked more tired than anything, but it was a moment he and everyone at the Basin Reserve today will remember forever.
It had been shades of February 21, 1986, when Australia were in town and New Zealand's champion fast bowler Richard Hadlee poised on 299 test wickets.
A building crowd, the crackle of transistor radios in the air and a general air of tension and excitement. Back then it took till the third session for Hadlee to claim his triple century, when Fred Goodall gave Allan Border out lbw, much to the relief of all.
This time the milestone was destined to come much quicker, provided McCullum could hold his nerve.
The crowd too, for that matter. The New Zealand captain was greeted by a standing ovation, while his first-ball leave off Zaheer merited applause too.
Everyone knew they were on the cusp of witnessing sporting history and desperate that nothing should prevent it.
By the time a four off Ishant Sharma had taken McCullum through to 288, there were still queues of eager people trying to get in and more spectators in the ground than there had been for all of yesterday's play.
It's not often a ground is gripped by tension when the home team's 602 for six and that almost overflowed when McCullum nicked Sharma on 293. McCullum's head shot round and the collective exhaling of breath was palpable as he, and everyone, saw the chance drop shot of wicketkeeper MS Dhoni.
Another boundary to deep square leg, off Sharma, then a sharp single took the skipper through to 298.
Through it all, debutant James Neesham continued to look as if he were born for test cricket. Never mind that his captain was two runs away from New Zealand cricket immortality, Neesham had his own milestones in mind.
A well-run two to midwicket, off Sharma again, made Neesham just the tenth New Zealander to score a test century on debut. It had taken him just 123 balls and confirmed him as a player of immense promise.
McCullum wasn't going to leave anyone waiting, either. The first ball of the next over was neatly guided through gully for four and New Zealand had their first triple-century maker of all time.
David Thomson was sitting on the bank above where McCullum's triple century-winning four landed.
"It was fantastic. The applause went on for ages, I think it was a five-minute standing ovation.
"You never forget it."
Soon after, another standing ovation came as New Zealand hit 674 runs - its highest ever test total.
Top ten scores of all time:
1. Brian Lara (West Indies): 400 vs England at Antigua in 2004
2. Matthew Hayden (Australia): 380 vs Zimbabwe at Perth in 2003
3. Brian Lara (West Indies): 375 vs England at Antigua in 1994
4. Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka): 374 vs South Africa at Colombo in 2006
5. Gary Sobers (West Indies): 365 vs Pakistan at Jamaica in 1958
6. Len Hutton (England): 364 vs Australia at The Oval in 1938
7. Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka): 340 vs India at Colombo in 1997
8. Hanif Mohammad (Pakistan): 337 vs West Indies at Bridgetown in 1958
9. Wally Hammond (England): 336 vs New Zealand at Auckland in 1933
The Dominion Post