Kiwi Captain Says He Will Remember His 302 For the Rest of His Life
After sealing the Test series 1-0 with a draw in Wellington, McCullum relived the moment when he achieved what none of his countrymen have so far.
“I wasn’t feeling nervous until I saw the size of the crowd,” McCullum said, talking about the moment just prior to reaching the 300-mark. “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,”
“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.”
His 302 runs were invaluable in the context of the match and the series, and that made the achievement all the more satisfying for the Kiwi captain. “My innings was what was required at that stage (94/5),” he said. “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.”
While becoming the first Kiwi to cross the 300 hurdle, McCullum surpassed Martin Crowe’s 299 as the highest score by a New Zealander. “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.
“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,” said the humble batsman.
In celebrating his own achievement, McCullum acknowledged the contributions of BJ Watling and James Neesham who scored their respective centuries en route building huge partnerships with their skipper.
“Thankfully I had partners at the other end who also played brilliant innings,” McCullum said. “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.
“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.”
McCullum declared the Kiwi innings late in the first session, setting India 435 to get in two sessions, hence leaving only one probable result – a draw. When asked why he didn’t make a daring declaration, the Kiwi captain 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,” said McCullum.