Brendon McCullum breaks Crowe's record

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 13:15 18/02/2014
ROBERT KITCHIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Fans at the Basin Reserve talk about Brendon McCullum's triple century.

McCullum the man
McCullum becomes the first New Zealander to score a Test Match triple century.

Was McCullum's 302 the ultimate innings?

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Brendon McCullum knocked the bastard off.

Where Martin Crowe once failed to climb what he dubbed "my Everest'', McCullum was able to, becoming the first New Zealander 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 of the most elite company in the annals of test cricket.

It took McCullum 557 balls to get to 300 and he was gone two balls later for 302. Not that anyone cared.

McCullum's dad, Stu McCullum, admitted he was unusually nervous this morning. He said he was proud of the way his son went about the innings.

"He's changed, possibly, the way he treats the innings in front of him at the time. Obviously the team certainly required him to do that and he's done that the last two tests. He likes to stand up to a challenge.

"He has been a dasher and will probably be a dasher in the future again as well. But the situations required him to do what he's done and I'm very pleased the way he's gone about it.''

And the records kept falling at the Basin Reserve. With 25 minutes to lunch, skipper McCullum declared with his team at 680/8 - New Zealand's highest ever test innings, setting India 435 to win in 67 overs.

It seemed as if the game might never re-start 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.

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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.

HIGHEST SCORES BY NEW ZEALAND BATSMEN

302 - Brendon McCullum, v India, Wellington

299 - Martin Crowe, v Sri Lanka, Wellington

274* - Stephen Fleming, v Sri Lanka, Colombo

267* - Bryan Young, v Sri Lanka, Dunedin

262 - Stephen Fleming, v South Africa, Cape Town

259 - Glenn Turner, v West Indies, Georgetown, 1972

* denotes not out

LONGEST INNINGS IN TEST CRICKET

970 minutes - Hanif Mohammad (Pakistan), 337 v West Indies, Bridgetown, 1958

878 - Gary Kirsten (South Africa), 275 v England, Durban, 1999

799 - Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka), 340 v India, Colombo, 1997

797 - Len Hutton (England), 364 v Australia, London, 1938

790 - Hashim Amla (South Africa), 311 v England, London, 2012

778 - Brian Lara (West Indies), 400 v England, St Johns, 2004

777 - Brendon Kuruppu (Sri Lanka), 201em v New Zealand, Colombo, 1987

774 - Brendon McCullum (NZ), 302 v India, Wellington, 2014.

TEST TRIPLE CENTURY-MAKERS

Those who have scored two triple centuries Don Bradman (Australia) v England (1930), v England (1934); Brian Lara (West Indies) v England (1994), v England (2004); Virender Sehwag (India) v Pakistan (2004), v South Africa (2008); Chris Gayle (West Indies) v South Africa (2005), v Sri Lanka (2010)

 Those who have scored one triple century Andy Sandham (England) v West Indies (1930); Walter Hammond v New Zealand (1933); Len Hutton (England) v Australia (1938); Hanif Mohammad (Pakistan) v West Indies (1958); Garfield Sobers (West Indies) v Pakistan (1958); Bob Simpson (Australia) v England (1964); John Edrich (England) v New Zealand (1965); Bob Cowper (Australia) v England (1966); Lawrence Rowe (West Indies) v England (1974); Graham Gooch (England) v India (1990); Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka) v India (1997); Mark Taylor (Australia) v Pakistan (1998); Inzamam-ul-Haq (Pakistan) v New Zealand (2002); Matthew Hayden (Australia) v Zimbabwe (2003); Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka) v South Africa (2006); Younis Khan (Pakistan) v Sri Lanka (2009); Michael Clarke (Australia) v India (2012); Hashim Amla (South Africa) v England (2012); Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka) v Bangladesh 2014); Brendon McCullum (New Zealand) v India (2014).

- Fairfax Media

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