It was the 200th over of New Zealand’s 2nd innings at Wellington; he had walked in at the fall of the third wicket at the end of the 17th over and he had played 556 balls till that point.
But when New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum cut a short delivery off Zaheer Khan past the point fielder, he must have felt that he had enough energy to probably go on for another couple of days because with that stroke, an ecstatic McCullum wrote cricketing history for New Zealand as he became the first ever Kiwi batsman to record a triple century in Tests.
Speaking about his marathon knock on the back of which the hosts managed to draw the second Test and win the two-match series 1-0, McCullum said : ”My innings was what was required at that stage (94/5). We were obviously scrapping to save the Test and therefore win the series, and we managed to get some partnerships under pressure. And then kept batting and batting and batting. So it was pretty satisfying to get us out of trouble and claim the series win.”
McCullum became the highest scorer for New Zealand in Test cricket overtaking Michael Crowe’s 299 which had also come at the same ground. McCullum also became the 24th batsman in the history of Test cricket to score a triple-hundred.
“I wasn’t feeling nervous until I saw the size of the crowd. That’s probably when I understood the magnitude of the task at hand and the immense joy it gives fans of this cricket team to see guys succeed and see records broken,” he said.
“It was a moment, when the 300 came up and the applause was ongoing for quite a while, it is really when it hit home to me that it was quite a significant achievement for a New Zealander and I’ll certainly remember them for the rest of my life,” he added.
McCullum was also modest in saying that he felt embarrassed at some of the players’ scores he surpassed as he felt that he was not quite as talented as some of them.
“Without being disrespectful I probably didn’t know the magnitude of it until the last 24 hours. I grew up and watched the New Zealand cricket team for years,” he said.
“I watched Martin Crowe score his 299 and thought it would have been an amazing feat if he scored 300 but probably didn’t quite understand how much it meant to the whole country who support this team. I also spoke to Stephen Fleming last night. I feel a little bit embarrassed because I’m nowhere near the calibre of players they were.”
The skipper also heaped praise on BJ Watling, with whom he shared a record 6th wicket partnership of 352 runs, and James Neesham who scored a quick hundred on his Test debut.
“Thankfully I had partners at the other end who also played brilliant innings. I thought BJ and Neesh, their innings were outstanding. BJ’s in particular because he came in when we were five down for 90-odd and he obviously came off a duck in the first innings as well. To play an innings like that is testament to how strong a character he is,” he said.
“Then Neesh in his first Test match, with the game still reasonably poised to come out and play his natural game, which is aggressive, takes a lot of courage, so I was pretty lucky to have those guys there. Then I had to fight the emotion when I hit the ball a bit harder than I was trying to hit and make sure of the team goal first and foremost.”
Speaking about the declaration which came just before lunch on Day 5 leaving India no chance to clinch a series-leveling win, McCullum said : “We were 1-0 up in the series and, two and a half days ago we were staring down the barrel of an early finish on day three. We didn’t want to pass up all that good work we had done to try and give India a sniff back into the series.
“I always try and win but at some point you’ve got to acknowledge the game was out of your reach and then you fought your way back into it. Hence we made sure we got a score where we knew we were going to lose and then we could be as aggressive as we wanted, and hopefully if we got some early wickets then some pressure might set in. But they’re class players and they stood up.”
McCullum also cheekily thanked Indian batsman Virat Kohli who put him down when the Kiwi skipper was just on 9.
“I’m not sure what sort of wine Kohli drinks but he probably got his bit of karma back this afternoon (scoring a hundred after given not out off a visible edge). I very much appreciated him putting that one down but thankfully I didn’t offer too many chances after that,” said the star batsman.
“I’m going to have a quiet beer with my team-mates. Just catch up with the boys and pledge up in the changing room and just reflect on a season that’s been pretty important for us and the game in New Zealand,” McCullum signed off.