There was a moment shortly after Brendon McCullum reached 300 when he looked genuinely bewildered.
The initial arms-raised moment of triumph had morphed into palpable relief, but the crowds that had queued outside the Basin Reserve at 10.30am on a Tuesday morning to witness the event were not ready to let McCullum knuckle back down to work.
They stood and cheered and stood and clapped some more. It was something like adulation; something McCullum had craved since he was a prodigiously talented sportsman at King's High School in Dunedin but which, through circumstances in and out of his control, he probably had resigned himself to never receiving.
Hence the look on his face that suggested he wasn't sure how to take this all in. And was that the hint of a tear forming in the corner of permanently sun-squinted eyes?
"Nah, no tear in the eye. I'm from south Dunedin," he said in the post-match press conference.
McCullum, 33, has never enjoyed the universal embrace of his countrymen. Some of the reasons are as difficult to fathom as quantum mechanics, but his latest and greatest crime was to take over the captaincy in dubious circumstances from the popular Ross Taylor.
Winning and playing well was going to be the only remedy and in that respect 2014 has been close to an unparalleled triumph.
Along with that groundbreaking triple century, the first time a New Zealander has passed that magical barrier in tests, he has notched up two match-winning double hundreds, one against India at Eden Park, and the other last month against Pakistan in Sharjah.
He joins Sir Donald Bradman and Michael Clarke as the only players to score a triple and two doubles in a calendar year.
McCullum in the same sentence as Bradman - not something that would have been expected early in his career when he was a dashing yet maddeningly inconsistent wicketkeeper-batsman.
New Zealand, as if keeping pace with their captain, have enjoyed a golden year. They beat a powerful Indian side at home in the test and one-day series, won a test series in the West Indies and, in the shadow of Phillip Hughes' death, fought back to draw a test series against Pakistan in the unfamiliar surrounds of the United Arab Emirates. They have played an attacking, never-give-up style that has endeared them to a success-starved cricketing public.
It should be noted, too, that it is not just on the field where McCullum is making an impact. This year it became public that he had testified to International Cricket Council anti-corruption investigators in the case against former friend and teammate Chris Cairns.
He will testify at Cairns' perjury trial next year if called. The backlash is expected to be brutal. McCullum has stood firm, saying he is more committed than ever to rid the game of match-fixing. Standing firm is something he's becoming awfully good at.
McCullum's big year
224 v India, Eden Park, Feb 6
302 v India, Wellington, Feb 14
202 v Pakistan, Sharjah, Nov 26
969 runs @ 64.6
Nominated so far
• Lucy Knight, Good Samaritan
• Donna Collins and Sharon Mackie, Ebola fighters
• Sol3 Mio, opera singers
• Mary Quin, took on the man behind her kidnapping
For previous nominations, go to: tinyurl.com/nzerofyear.
Brendon McCullum - For turning the tide of public opinion about New Zealand cricket and scoring lots of runs.