McCullum praises Williamson's temperament
Brendon McCullum has said his 224 at Eden Park will be his best innings if New Zealand beat India in the first Test. He also credited Kane Williamson for his temperament during their double-century partnership on day one, and said that his younger colleague's knowledge and approach had helped him bat for so long.
"Definitely (it will be my best) if we win the game. Pleased to have contributed in a significant way, which was by building partnerships," McCullum said after the second day's play. "We managed to keep creating partnerships after a tough start so that is very satisfying, especially after we lost wickets. To get 500 after being put into bat, after we were 30 for 3, is a great effort. Team has got a little bit of fight in them in tough situations."
McCullum and Williamson led that fight, adding 221 at over four an over. After Williamson was caught down the leg side for 113, McCullum carried on and added another 133 with Corey Anderson, before the allrounder got a rough decision on 77. McCullum marched on, and took the score past 500, a total he felt New Zealand had no hope of reaching given the dire situation he came into.
"We thought we would get 200-odd," McCullum said. "Was thinking about small targets, being competitive when you are 30 for 3, but when we started going obviously targets changed for us. Never did I think that after 30 for 3, and in those conditions that we would get 500 and that's a fine achievement for this batting group. We have the bowlers to take 20 wickets provided we give them enough runs and I think we have given them enough runs."
Dwelling on Williamson's role in the fightback, McCullum said his partner made him realise the magnitude of their task extended beyond making it to their respective hundreds. "He has got a really good mindset and he said 100 is just a number. Our job at that time was not to get too carried away, it was to keep batting and get good runs on the board. Was nice to tick off the milestone, nice to get a hundred at home, but still had a job to do.
"Credit to Kane for his temperament and also his batting knowledge that he passed on to me that I have got a job to do. Was hard to rein myself in at times but batting with Kane was outstanding. He has a great temperament, a great amount of maturity and is experienced as well. Disappointed that he got out, his approach was right and rubbed off on me."
It was an important innings personally for McCullum as well. New Zealand had taken the one-dayers against India 4-0 but that was mostly due to the batting of Williamson and Ross Taylor. While McCullum did get some quick, late runs, he also had two successive ducks, and admitted it became difficult as captain when the runs were not coming.
"Harder to lead when you are not scoring runs. That's when your fighting qualities and as a leader come out, as you still have a job to do as captain," he said. "If you aren't scoring runs then that's the important time to stand up as a leader, that's what I have realised recently. And still enjoy other people's success as well ... just keep faith, keep heart and desire."
McCullum reached the double-century with a six and a four in the last over before lunch, and had also reached the hundred on day one with a six. He said he did not want to spend too much time in the nineties, having fallen there a few times before.
The No 5 position was the ideal one for him, McCullum said. "Batting at number five is suitable for me with the ball not quite so new. Bat after Kane and Taylor and then with strokemakers later on, BJ (Watling) and Corey. Five is a good place to bat for me."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo