Traffic was light as Black Cap Nathan Astle drove himself across Christchurch to Jade Stadium on the beautiful blue sky Saturday morning of March 16, 2002.
He had not the slightest idea that an innings he was about to play in the test against England would set a world record, and have an English writer say that if "Sir Donald Bradman's batting was correctly described as being a mixture of poetry and murder then, for a brief hour, Astle was Shakespeare and Jack the Ripper rolled into one."
Once at the crease he was totally unaware his demolition of the English bowling attack was creating traffic jams in Ferry Rd as word spread that something astonishing was happening at a rapidly filling stadium.
"By the end of the third day we'd been 28 without loss, so the run chase on the Saturday was a mere 522," he jokes now. "England had two full days to bowl us out. Any reasonable person would have thought that only rain could save us."
Astle walked to the wicket with New Zealand 119-3. "I swear I didn't go out there thinking 'let's belt it from ball one', because we were in a bit of trouble. So my initial reaction was to try to survive for a while, and then see what developed."
Talking to him this week it's clear that 18 years later he's still slightly surprised that when he was finally out he'd scored 222 in 234 minutes off 168 deliveries, hit 11 sixes and 28 fours, put two balls onto the roofs of the towering stands, and smashed two others so far out of the ground they were lost in the car yards that then surrounded the now demolished stadium. Not even Sir Donald Bradman had hit a test double century off fewer deliveries.
Astle the man is an unlikely swashbuckler. Working with him on his 2007 biography, he was entirely likeable, with a sharp, wry sense of humour, but he also had a keen aversion to self-aggrandisement. The limelight never felt like his natural habitat.
However former New Zealand coach David Trist says that he once talked with a schoolmate of Astle's, "who used to watch him when he was at school, and he said that Nathan used to just destroy teams. He didn't get 50 or 80 quietly, it was just total demolition, with balls going everywhere.
"Perhaps that was the real Nathan. If he'd played like that all the time I guess selectors and coaches might have shied away, worried that they had a maverick on their hands, someone who was trying to devise 20/20 cricket ten years before its time."
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But Astle wasn't being self-effacing, just being honest, when he told me this week that his stunning 222 remains something of a mystery to him.
"The whole thing was like slow motion. When you're not struggling it isn't as if you know what's coming, you just have a lot more time to make decisions. That's how it felt. I just seemed to have so much more time than normal.
"It was the most bizarre day I've ever batted. Against the spinners and the medium pacers, when you're on song, you can actually see the seam of the ball.
"I've thought an awful lot about why some days everything clicks. I know some people do meditation and visualisation to envisage what you're going to do, but I honestly think sometimes it just happens. Why that (222) happened? Your guess is as good as mine."
Astle was joined by Chris Cairns with the Black Caps 339-9. "Chris had a patella tendon injury, that would put him out for the rest of the test series, and if we'd been going really badly he wouldn't have batted at all. But it was decided to give it a crack, and Cairnsy came out with Lou Vincent as a runner."
Astle has watched a DVD of the innings, and says "to me, I don't even show a lot of emotion. There was one six I hit straight, and it went over and out of the ground. I let a little bit of emotion out there, and yelled out 'Yeah!'
"Cairnsy had been jibing me that my hits weren't as big as his, and when that one went out of the ground straight, which I thought was a reasonable hit, I think between overs I went up to him and said, 'That wasn't too bad pal.'"
When Astle was eventually out, caught by James Foster, off the bowling of Andrew Hoggard, the Black Caps innings was over, at 451, England winning by 98 runs.
"We had a few beers in the shed," says Astle, "with the guys saying well done. I think there were a few, including me, surprised at what I'd done."
Astle's international career finished in December, 2006, just as T20 matches (a format at which Trist, amongst others, believe Astle would have thrived in) became part of the cricketing landscape.
"In 2007 I had a season with the Burnside West club in Christchurch as a player-coach,' says Astle, "but it just wasn't me. I'm not a good cricket watcher. I wasn't a good watcher when I was a player, and it didn't get better as a coach.
"I've only picked up the bat three times, and that was for the Christchurch earthquake game at the Basin Reserve in 2011 (he top scored with 61 off 29 deliveries), and the two T20 Black Clash rugby versus cricket games."
His sporting passions now lie in the petrolhead paradise of speedway racing, steering brutally powerful V8 cars under the sponsorship of Bascik Transport around, at first, the dirt track at Ruapuna in a sprint car, and then changing this year to the modifieds at Woodford Glen.
Modifieds have huge roof mounted aerofoils to hold the car on the ground in a corner. Make a little mistake in a modified, one motoring writer has cheerfully suggested, and they become "a high speed metal tumbleweed."
Astle allows that, as well as the adrenalin rush he loves, speedway racing does have its share of spills.
"I've been up and over a couple of times. It does happen. You're racing on a dirt oval track and the sprint cars are pretty quick, and you're open wheel to open wheel. So every now and then someone will ride someone else's wheel, and it's pretty much, hold on for the ride."
His life away from the race track is much gentler. For the last 10 years he and his wife, Kelly, have owned Kiwi Kids Preschool in Middleton in Christchurch. Usually 75 children attend each day, but during the level 3 lockdown the daily tally is more like 20. "We're looking forward to a return to something like normality."
I have to ask him one more question. Where is the famous 222 bat? He laughs.
"That's one of the very, very few pieces of memorabilia I've kept. It's safe and sound at home."