Monday, February 17, 2014

Brendon the Magnificent

Through all the ups and downs of New Zealand cricket it had been wondered if modern batsmen had the temperament to play the sort of defensive match-saving innings that Mark Greatbatch immortalised at Perth in 1989.

Brendon McCullum demonstrated the know-how and determination is still there with a priceless effort at the Basin Reserve, and in the process became the first New Zealander to achieve 300.

Both the Greatbatch and McCullum innings started in similar fashion attempting to fend off defeat. Greatbatch scored 146 and batted long enough to deny Australia the time they needed to push for a victory.

However, McCullum went one better and played New Zealand into a position where they could push for a win. That made his effort all the more impressive. Interestingly, it continued the historic fact that of the eight 300s scored by New Zealanders in first-class play, six of them have had connections with Otago. Bert Sutcliffe scored his two 300s and Roger Blunt his playing for Otago. Glenn Turner scored his playing for his English county Worcestershire while Ken Rutherford and Mark Richardson were representing New Zealand when they scored theirs. The odd man out is one of the openers in this Test Peter Fulton who broke the cycle for Canterbury when he scored his 300.

Along the way he secured another world record for New Zealand with his sixth-wicket partnership of 352 with BJ Watling, whose involvement in the match-saving effort should not be forgotten as he posted his third Test century.

McCullum was required to play out of character and it was that aspect of his innings that was most endearing. The further he went the greater the demonstration of his batsmanship and it was an outstanding example of his skill which deserves to be fully acknowledged by the sometimes unforgiving New Zealand public.

Test cricket is the most exacting testing ground for players, and the feats that are remembered longest about players are those associated with the Test match game.

McCullum has engineered two home series wins this summer and has enjoyed having good support around, most notably from Ross Taylor who had his own batting moments to savour against the West Indies.

These are the efforts around which New Zealand's recovery and movement up the Test rankings are built around. Add to that the achievement of securing an effective bowling attack and the future looks rosier. And then there is the emergence of two genuine all-rounders in Corey Anderson and James Neesham with a superb century on debut in Wellington, and there is even greater hope.

No greater example of the hold McCullum has taken on the team could have been imagined than his Wellington innings. He is already among the greats of the New Zealand game and more rewards surely lie ahead.

1 comment:

David McWhinnie said...

It has been a great day for Brendan McCullum and NZ cricket.I did not appreciate the Otago connection with the first class players scoring triple centuries.