'Immense' Taylor 200 forged out of adversity
Had the DeLorean from Back to the Future been available to Australia's pace bowlers in Brisbane, they'd have been about as disoriented by the sight of Ross Taylor's double century as Marty McFly was by news the Chicago Cubs had supposedly won the 2015 World Series.
Taylor's monumental innings, described as "immense" by New Zealand's batting coach Craig McMillan and "one of the best innings I have seen" by his batting partner Kane Williamson, was an achievement made all the more admirable by the fact he had started this tour in truly grim touch.
In Brisbane, Taylor had battled through a truly tortured first innings, and looked only marginally more sure of himself in the second. A duck and 16 in his two warm-up innings were likewise scant indicators that Taylor had it in him to construct the highest ever score by a New Zealand batsman against Australia, and the only double hundred ever made by a visiting Test batsman at the WACA Ground.
There is no doubt Williamson played a key role in showing Taylor the way forward, playing so fluently and assuredly both at the Gabba and here that others were shown how Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon could be successfully tackled on their home turf. But Taylor also showed his own development by scoring in zones his previously dominant bottom hand might once have cancelled out.
Unbeaten on 235 at day's end, Taylor will hope to take New Zealand into the lead and a position to pressure Australia - certainly Williamson and McMillan are hoping he can.
"I think it would be one of the best innings that I have seen," Williamson said. "The tempo that he batted and the length of time that he has been at the crease has been outstanding and moving our team's position forward. I know it is a tough ask but hopefully he can keep going a little bit tomorrow, build a couple of partnerships would certainly help us a lot, but certainly an absolutely fantastic innings so far.
"I thought he was really calm out there. He just went about his work in a reasonably aggressive way and that's when he bats at his best I think. To get that momentum in his innings from pretty much the word go - there were certainly some tough periods but he was playing so well. It was such a nice thing."
McMillan was part of the New Zealand side that so nearly forced a match and series win over Steve Waugh's powerful team at this ground in 2001, a performance built largely on a record stand between Nathan Astle and Adam Parore. Taylor's union with Williamson eclipsed their record, before the former went on to heights McMillan said he had always been capable of reaching.
"I think it was an immense innings and it had been brewing for some time," McMillan said. "He'd been a little bit short of time in the middle and runs, but what do they say? Form's temporary and class is permanent. That got shown today. His concentration in the first two or three overs of the day really set the tone for the way he was going to bat.
"His tempo was superb, hitting straight down the ground was something he's worked really hard on in recent times just to open up that area that probably hasn't always been a strength of his, but some of those straight cover drives were some of the best you'll see from any player in the world.
"You'd have to rank it right up there as one of New Zealand's best Test knocks, with the conditions, with the match situation, you throw all that into the mix and it's one of the best. There's still a lot more batting to be done. He can go as long as the concentration stays strong. We want more partnerships from that lower order, guys to hang in with him, bat as long as possible and see what happens from there."
Williamson and Taylor were both highly successful in picking off more or less every bad ball the Australians bowled, an efficiency that allowed them to dictate terms all day and prevent the hosts from gaining momentum. McMillan said he had encouraged his men to stay positive throughout, ensuring that the bowlers knew they would be hurt if they strayed from all but the most disciplined of lines.
"They're attacking bowlers who come after you, but the upside of that is there's scoring opportunities," he said. "One of the impressive things from our guys over the last two days is how efficient they've been when they've been offered a scoring opportunity. They've hit gaps well and they've really put anything loose away, which has put that pressure back on the Australian bowling attack.
"That's a key when you're facing a good attack that's got extra pace is that when they miss, you've got to make sure you hurt them, you're not looking just to defend and survive, you're actually looking to score, and obviously Kane and Ross in that partnership did that beautifully today but it flowed right through the partnerships in the order throughout the day, and that's something we'll continue to be looking for."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig