Brendon McCullum, playing his final Test, smashed the fastest Test century in history, off just 54 balls, two better than Viv Richards and Misbah-ul-Haq
Australia will rue their misfortune, for they gave the dynamic captain two chances, when on 32 and 39, the last one from a brilliant catch by Mitchell Marsh. But James Pattinson had overstepped the mark by mere millimetres. It was an error which was to cost his side 106 runs as McCullum powered his way to his hundred with 16 fours and four sixes. He went on to 145 off 79 balls with 21 fours and six sixes.
His first 50 came off 34 balls, his second 50 from only 20. Test cricket’s fastest half-century came off 21 balls.
Having been sent in to bat in the second Test, New Zealand were struggling at 32-3 in the 20th over when McCullum came to the crease. He helped push them to 370, and Australia ended the day on 57-1
The Black Caps captain had said before the match that the Hagley Oval greentop could be ‘one of those times when fortune favours the brave’.
He put that to immediate effect. New Zealand scored at nearly nine an over in the 124 minutes McCullum held court.
‘On that wicket the feedback from the boys was that at any stage a ball could have your name on it,’ McCullum said.
‘What we were able to do was knock them off that difficult length on the top of off stump. If you’re trying to hang in there at the top of off stump, geez you’re in big trouble, I reckon. That was our thought process, it’s nice when things come off.’
This was far from a textbook knock from McCullum, who walked down the wicket repeatedly to the quicks and often backed outside leg to play outrageous cross-bat swipes.
McCullum, smarting from an innings defeat in the first Test, had not made an international century in any format in 13 months; prior to Saturday he had hit only one ton in 28 Test innings against Australia, passing 50 only four times.
McCullum’s bravado inspired Corey Anderson, whose 72 off 66 balls appeared sedate next to his captain.