Cricket: ranking of the best test centuries in the history of Black Caps

Kane Williamson, Nathan Astle and Brendon McCullum have famously produced barrels for New Zealand.

OPINION:

All the centuries in test cricket are special in their own right. But what makes a great barrel… well, great? Otago Daily Times cricket writer Adrian Seconi rips away one of his favorite cricket books to list his top 10 New Zealand test centuries.

The philosophy

Memorable hundreds are not necessarily the same as large hundreds. Brendon McCullum beat the fastest test hundred in history in 2015. But he was dropped early and given a no-ball. And some of the borders were dirty thick edges flying over the slip cordon. It was truly an entertaining knock and infinitely rewatchable. But, from a technical standpoint, was it one of the great innings? Keep that in mind as you read through these top 10.

The criteria

Patrick Ferriday and Dave Wilson, in their beautiful book Master Striking – 100 Awesome Test Centuries, set themselves the ambitious task of ranking the top 100 test hundreds and devised a methodology that I have leaned on here. Each century was judged on the basis of these criteria: value; quality; condition; bowling strength; and influence.

Value includes the number of runs scored and the percentage this makes up of the team total. Quality is partly aesthetic, but also the tempo and pace of the innings and whether opportunities were offered.

The conditions, strength of bowling and the impact the innings had on the game/series are also each marked at 20 for an overall score out of 100.

A determined effort had gone into making sure there was good representation rather than just listing the top five hits from Kane Williamson and Martin Crowe. I effectively chose my top 10 and then applied the methodology. There were some surprising results. The order was not what I expected.

Honorable Mentions

– Stylish southpaw Bert Sutcliffe returned to international cricket after a six-year hiatus at the age of 38, scoring 151 non-out against India in Kolkata in 1965.

– All-rounder John Reid scored a few memorable hundreds, but lost efforts. He scored 100 of 159 against England in 1963, but the match was lost by seven wickets. And he stroked 142 out of 249 against South Africa in 1962, but New Zealand lost on a turn and substitution.

10) 222 – Nathan Astle v England, Christchurch, 2002

Balls Faced: 168.

Team Score: 451.

Meaning: Still the fastest test double ton ever scored.

Description: At the foot of Mount Everest in high heels, Astle launched a devastating counterattack that proved almost anything is possible. England went on to win by 98 runs.

Score card: Value 18, quality 18, conditions 13, bowling strength 15, impact 11.

Ranking: 75

Nathan Astle celebrates after his record double ton against England.  photo sport
Nathan Astle celebrates after his record double ton against England. photo sport

9=) 302 – Brendon McCullum v India, Wellington, 2014

Balls Faced: 559.

Team Score: 680/8 Dec.

Meaning: Got into battle with the Black Caps 52 for three and sent his side out of trouble.

Description: Was in the shape of his life, but abandoned all his instincts and braced himself to save the game with a massive and historic knock against a useful Indian attack.

Score card: Value 19, quality 16, conditions 13, bowling strength 14, impact 17.

Ranking: 79

Brendon McCullum salutes the crowd after being fired for 302 against India.  Photo / Mark Mitchell
Brendon McCullum salutes the crowd after being fired for 302 against India. Photo / Mark Mitchell

9=) 111 not out – Jeremy Comey v Pakistan, Carisbrook, 1985

Balls Faced: 243.

Team Score: 278/8.

Meaning: Tied the tail end to a thrilling two-wicket win at Carisbrook, helping to win the Test series 2-0.

Description: Lance Cairns had been bounced off by a young and excited Wasim Akram, so Comey and Ewen Chatfield put up 50 for what was essentially a final wicket stand. Comey combined a tough defense and a strong offense to win the day. Fell a few times, also on 97.

Score card: Value 16, quality 15, conditions 16, bowling strength 13, impact 19.

Ranking: 79

7) 173 – Ian Smith v India, Auckland, 1990

Balls Faced: 136.

Team Score: 391.

Meaning: Crushed 24 out of one over. Broke the world record for a No9 batter. Featured in two New Zealand record partnerships.

Description: New Zealand had dropped to 131 for seven and, out of nowhere, Smith repulsed the attack in a stunning attack.

Score card: Value 17, quality 17, conditions 15, bowling strength 14, impact 17.

Ranking: 80

6=) 146 not out – Mark Greatbatch v Australia, Perth, 1989

Balls Faced: 485.

Team Score: 322/7.

Meaning: His test century was the slowest scored in Australia, but he also designed a superb rearguard action.

Description: Beaten the better part of two days against a hostile bowling alley to save a draw.

Score card: Value 17, quality 16, conditions 15, bowling strength 16, impact 17.

Ranking: 81

6=) 102 not from Kane Williamson v South Africa, Wellington, 2012

Balls Faced: 228.

Team Score: 200/6.

Meaning: He came of age by fending off a savage Proteas attack to secure a draw.

Description: New Zealand had dropped to 83 for five, but Williamson braved a red-hot Morne Morkel and kept the great Dale Steyn out. Offered a few opportunities.

Score card: Value 16, quality 15, conditions 15, bowling strength 18, impact 17.

Ranking: 81

Kane Williamson celebrates raising a century against South Africa in 2012. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Kane Williamson celebrates raising a century against South Africa in 2012. Photo / Mark Mitchell

4) 274 Not Out – Stephen Fleming v Sri Lanka, Colombo, 2003

Balls Faced: 476.

Team Score: 515/7 Dec.

Meaning: Scored a huge double ton in his 50th test as captain.

Description: Was on their field against Sri Lankan greats Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan and won the battle. The match ended in a draw.

Score card: Value 19, quality 17, conditions 14, bowling strength 15, impact 17.

Ranking: 82

3) 188 – Martin Crowe v West Indies, Georgetown, 1985

Balls Faced: 462.

Team Score: 440.

Meaning: The 22-year-old slammed like a veteran to help his side avoid the sequel.

Description: Marked himself as a top-class batter with a conscientious knock against a devastating three-pace pace attack from Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Joel Garner. The docile nature of the pitch helped a bit.

Score card: Value 17, quality 17, conditions 12, bowling strength 19, impact 17.

Ranking: 82

2) 110 not out – Glenn Turner v Australia, Christchurch, 1974

Balls Faced: 335.

Team Score: 230/5.

Meaning: Brought New Zealand to a first win over Australia. Also scored a century in the first innings to become the first New Zealander to score hundreds in a game back-to-back.

Description: Master difficult hitting conditions and a decent attack, including the world’s No. 1 bowler, Max Walker.

Score card: Value 16, quality 17, conditions 17, bowling strength 14, impact 19.

Ranking: 83

1) 290 – Ross Taylor v Australia, Perth, 2015

Balls Faced: 374.

Team Score: 624.

Meaning: The highest score in Australia by a visiting player.

Description: Crushed around an all-star Australian bowling lineup in very friendly hitting conditions in the Waca. However, Mitchell Starc was bowling in extreme heat. Reach 160 km/h at some point. The match was a draw.

Score card: Value 18, quality 17, conditions 13, bowling strength 19, impact 17.

Ranking: 84

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