New Zealand v Australia, 2nd Test, Christchurch, 1st day February 20, 2016

'I was trying to hit every ball for four or six' - Brendon McCullum


Play 01:03
'You don't set out to achieve it' - McCullum

For nearly 30 years, Viv Richards has sat on top of the list of fastest Test centuries. Few men have come seriously close to usurping King Viv, like Adam Gilchrist did at the WACA in 2006-07. His 57-ball effort was one short of Richards' 56-ball hundred, scored against England in Antigua in 1985-86. Misbah-ul-Haq then equalled Richards' record in Abu Dhabi in 2014-15. But it took Brendon McCullum to break it.

McCullum's 54-ball century against Australia at the Hagley Oval came with a boundary slapped over extra cover off Josh Hazlewood, and viewers around the world knew that a world record had been broken. But McCullum himself insisted that he was unaware of the milestone until it had been announced over the Hagley Oval loudspeaker and flashed up on the big screen.

"No idea," McCullum said after play on the first day. "I was trying to hit every ball for four or six. I wasn't aware of the record but very respectful of all those who've held it before. It'd be nice to win the Test match, that'd be the most important thing.

"[Viv Richards] was my idol growing up. It's nice to be able to go past him but jeez, he was a cracking player, an incredible cricketer. I'm almost a bit embarrassed to go past him, to be honest. Hopefully he enjoyed a bit of the 'stroke-making', we'll call it."

McCullum had some good fortune along the way, most notably when he slashed a delivery from James Pattinson and was brilliantly caught by a diving Mitchell Marsh at gully. However, the umpires checked the replays and confirmed that Pattinson had delivered a no-ball, the third time this summer that he had cost himself a wicket in that way, after his no-balls twice reprieved West Indies' Carlos Brathwaite at the MCG.

"I thought it was four as soon as I hit it, then I turned around and it was their third great catch of the day," McCullum said. "Steve Smith's catches were phenomenal as well. We talked about that they do push the front line a little bit. You're always hopeful but you don't anticipate it actually being a no-ball so it was quite a nice reprieve. It probably loosens you up a little bit and relaxes you a bit more. You know you're probably not meant to be out there so you might as well play with even more freedom."

Brendon McCullum benefited from a slice of luck and smashed his way to the fastest Test century © Getty Images

Initially, it did not seem that this would be McCullum's day, after he again lost the toss on a green pitch and Steven Smith sent the hosts in. But more or less as soon as McCullum walked out to bat with the score on 32 for 3, his fortune turned. Asked when he got the impression this might be his day, McCullum was honest.

"Probably second ball when I had an almighty, filthy slog and it went over the slips cordon for four," he said. "When you're confronted with wickets like that you know you're going to have to be pretty aggressive and need some luck, and we got quite a bit of luck. That partnership between Corey [Anderson] and I was great fun but also instrumental for us to hopefully set the Test match up."

"I've been on the other side many times and you walk off and think 'jeez if I'd reined it in a little bit who knows what would have happened'. On that wicket the feedback from the boys was that at any stage the ball could have your name on it. I tried to be as positive as I possibly could and hoped things would roll our way.

"When Corey came out he played aggressively and we started to get some momentum. We were able to knock them off that difficult length at the top of off stump. If you're just trying to hang in there on that wicket, around the top of off stump, you're in big trouble. It's nice when things come off."

The partnership of 179 between Anderson and McCullum set New Zealand on the path to a first-innings total of 370 from just 65.4 overs, which was a remarkable performance given the helpful conditions for Australia's fast men. McCullum joked that "about 120" seemed like it might be an acceptable score on that pitch, before refining his comments and declaring that "anything over 200, we thought, you're in the game".

"We saw at the Basin as well that that wicket actually dried out a little bit quicker than what we hoped for," he said. "For us it was a matter of trying to score our runs as quick as we could so the pitch didn't have the opportunity to dry out too much. "In the end, we faced 60-odd overs and the ball still went around in that last session as well. I think tomorrow morning's really important. It seems to do a lot more in the morning session here so we've got to be on our lengths. If we bowl well, we'll get some opportunities. Then it's a matter of whether we take them or not."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   Balasubramaniam Bala on February 22, 2016, 5:33 GMT

    Unlucky not have watched this in television even. Should have been one mighty swinging effort.

    Great way to call off Buzz this should be buzzing for sometime now.

    Green top, farewell match against old enemy, out swinging and getting it right what more do you want mate.

    Keep buzzing all thro' life.

  • Jose on February 22, 2016, 3:59 GMT

    @KIWILION ON FEBRUARY 22, 2016, 1:15 GMT:

    I want to assure you, KIWIs are not the only ones who love Baz. Many non-KIWIs too love him for many of his wonderful attributes. Like:

    His fearlessness. His positivity. His inspirational leadership. His supreme skills to entertain. His ability and willingness to look at the upside of a high risk approach, fully aware of the downside. His graciousness in appreciating the good work of his opponents. The list will go on and on...

    And, most importantly, for being a good man.

    Wonder, how many of us can claim even half of those traits!


    (a) Losing a match, while sincerely trying to win, even from an apparently losing situation is far more HONOURABLE than :

    (b) losing, without even entertaining a semblance of hope, let alone trying for an almost impossible win.

    Baz, you, time and again, proved to be an HONOURABLE man, on this score.

    We salute you at least for that, if not for anything else.

  • Bruce on February 22, 2016, 1:15 GMT

    Lets put everything in to perspective, we are a country of 4 million people, give or take, we are number 1 in both union and league, number 2 in ODI's and if what I'm reading number 6 in tests. We also know how Brendan has played the majority of his cricket and since he's been captain we have had one of the most successful periods of cricket we have ever had. I for one is very grateful to him as to what he has done to and with the team. We will probably never get to number 1 in tests, but without Bmac we probably also would have never had the past 2/3 years we've had either. So to all you critics, leave him alone cause us KIWI'S love him.

  • Kush on February 21, 2016, 17:11 GMT

    Thank you Brendon McCullum. It was a sheer pleasure to watch you play. I love Test cricket above all other forms and it is the variety of batting and bowling styles that make it so great in my opinion. There is a place for accumulators and there is a place for the dashers. And there is a place for people who can play according to the situation (Not BM, though!). Since Adam Gilchrist left the scene, there is no player that has been so exciting to watch. And it was a wonderful message Sir Viv left for BM on his achievement.

  • Rohan on February 21, 2016, 8:46 GMT

    Yeah some ridiculous luck for all that slogging. But what great innings don't have a good slice of luck somewhere on the way? I remember the great Sir Viv himself played a lot of streaky shots to get himself going but if you didn't get him early, you knew it was his day and it'd be just about game over! I think the amazing thing for McCullum and NZ was that all that amazing bravado and frequent mishits for boundaries went for so long! And it wasn't just Macca, Anderson and the tail played with their eyes spinning and kept swinging and it all came off! It wasn't much fun being on the receiving end but fair dinkum it was very memorable. Just one of those freak days of test cricket.

  • David on February 21, 2016, 7:17 GMT

    A brilliant innings by McCullum and well done... I do have a feeling though that with the modern bats etc, that this great record won't last as long as it did since the great Vivian Richards. I also wonder how many balls it would have taken Sir Viv to score his ton, if he had a modern bat in his hand. The great thing about Brendon's innings was the state of the match and the swing and seam on the first morning. That is top draw. It also ensures that the match should achieve a result either way. Possibly the saddest thing from a Kiwi viewpoint is that they should have scored 450-500 even if took an extra 20-40 overs to achieve. They still may win, but they have been very kind in leaving the door open for our Aussie team (if they are good enough) Brendon should have shut the door and put a nail in our coffin. I hope he doesn't retire with the one regret that he played a blinder as a player but made Australia #1 as a captain!!! Now that would be cruel and unusual punishment for any Kiwi.

  • GURNEET on February 21, 2016, 6:46 GMT

    There is respect that comes for what Brendom McCullum has done to seriously reshape and reenergize the BlackCaps, so much so that he has just mesmerized us with the fearless style of play and the way they have taken each match. Kudos to such an amazing tactical mind and the best part is that Cricket has become even popular than Rugby 7's, a feat to remember. I have a lot of respect for this wonderful down-to-earth New Zealand side and more so for Brendon, great work and have a great life. It is seriously a treat to watch you and your vibrant team play.

  • Andy on February 21, 2016, 6:39 GMT

    That was the most selfish innings I have ever seen in Test cricket. Slog and hope for the best in the first innings. Although entertaining to watch NZ will be a much better test side without that attitude especially from a captain.

  • Sree on February 21, 2016, 6:11 GMT

    Common sense says that what Baz did was right.. sped up the innings and got some runs.... a clean up was inevitable on that pitch but he added few valuable runs. Also got Aussies to bat before the pitch became benign...that was a part of the plan too. It is a different thing if it works or not. but ofc common sense is not common :)

  • Terence on February 21, 2016, 6:03 GMT

    VJYK you seen it for what it is. Yes they should have slowed down you don't become No.1 in test cricket by being bowled out before the end of day 1. As I said yesterday Australia will go about building an innings & not thrashing every ball that comes their way. Now only 14 behind & doing exactly that. Phat- boy, Australia not a good test or one-day team, I don't know where you get your figures, but Test rankings Aus-2nd, N.z.-6th, One-day rankings Aus 1st, N.z.-2nd. What do they say figures speck for themselves .