All centuries in test cricket are special in their own right. But what makes a great ton ... well, great? Otago Daily Times cricket writer Adrian Seconi rips off one of his favourite cricket books to name his top 10 New Zealand test centuries.
Memorable hundreds are not necessarily the same as great hundreds. Brendon McCullum flayed the fastest test hundred in history in 2015. But he was dropped early and caught off a no-ball. And some of the boundaries were dirty thick edges that flew over the slip cordon. It was a really entertaining knock and infinitely rewatchable. But, from a technical perspective, was it one of the great innings? Keep that in mind while reading through this top 10.
Patrick Ferriday and Dave Wilson, in their wonderful book Masterly Batting — 100 Great Test Centuries, set themselves the ambitious task of ranking the top 100 test hundreds and came up with a methodology that I have leaned on here. Each century was judged according to these criteria: value; quality; conditions; bowling strength; and impact.
Value encompasses the number of runs scored and the percentage it made up of the team total. Quality is partly aesthetic but also the pace and tempo of the innings and whether any chances were offered.
The conditions, the strength of the bowling and the impact the innings had on the match/series are each marked out of 20 as well for an overall score out of 100.
There was a determined effort made to make sure there was a good representation rather than just listing the top five knocks by Kane Williamson and Martin Crowe. Effectively, I picked my top 10 and then applied the methodology. There were some surprising results. The order was not what I expected.
- Classy left-hander Bert Sutcliffe returned to international cricket following a six-year break at the age of 38 and scored 151 not out against India in Kolkata in 1965.
- All-rounder John Reid scored a couple of memorable hundreds but in losing efforts. He scored 100 out of 159 against England in 1963 but the game was lost by seven wickets. And he stroked 142 out of 249 against South Africa in 1962 but New Zealand lost by an innings and change.
10) 222 - Nathan Astle v England, Christchurch, 2002
Balls faced: 168.
Team score: 451.
Significance: Still the fastest test double ton ever scored.
Description: At the foot of Mt Everest in a pair of high heels, Astle launched a devastating counterattack that almost proved anything is possible. England won by 98 runs in the end, though.
Scorecard: Value 18, quality 18, conditions 13, bowling strength 15, impact 11.
9=) 302 - Brendon McCullum v India, Wellington, 2014
Balls faced: 559.
Team score: 680/8 dec.
Significance: Came into bat with the Black Caps 52 for three and steered his side out of trouble.
Description: Was in the form of his life but abandoned all his instincts and buckled down to save the game with a mammoth and historic knock against a useful Indian attack.
Scorecard: Value 19, quality 16, conditions 13, bowling strength 14, impact 17.
9=) 111 not out - Jeremy Coney v Pakistan, Carisbrook, 1985
Balls faced: 243.
Team score: 278/8.
Significance: Nursed the tail through to a tense two-wicket win at Carisbrook which helped clinch the test series win 2-0.
Description: Lance Cairns had been felled by a bouncer by a young and fired-up Wasim Akram, so Coney and Ewen Chatfield put on 50 for what was effectively a last-wicket stand. Coney combined dour defence and strong attack to win the day. Dropped a couple of times, including on 97.
Scorecard: Value 16, quality 15, conditions 16, bowling strength 13, impact 19.
7) 173 - Ian Smith v India, Auckland, 1990
Balls faced: 136.
Team score: 391.
Significance: Smashed 24 off one over. Broke the world record for a No 9 batter. Featured in two New Zealand-record partnerships.
Description: New Zealand had slumped to 131 for seven and, out of the blue, Smith bludgeoned the attack in a stunning assault.
Scorecard: Value 17, quality 17, conditions 15, bowling strength 14, impact 17.
6=) 146 not out - Mark Greatbatch v Australia, Perth, 1989
Balls faced: 485.
Team score: 322/7.
Significance: His test century was the slowest scored in Australia but he also engineered a wonderful rearguard action.
Description: Batted for the best part of two days against some hostile bowling to salvage a draw.
Scorecard: Value 17, quality 16, conditions 15, bowling strength 16, impact 17.
6=) 102no Kane Williamson v South Africa, Wellington, 2012
Balls faced: 228.
Team score: 200/6.
Significance: Came of age by fending off a ferocious Proteas attack to secure a draw.
Description: New Zealand had slumped to 83 for five but Williamson defied a red-hot Morne Morkel and kept out the great Dale Steyn. Offered a couple of chances, though.
Scorecard: Value 16, quality 15, conditions 15, bowling strength 18, impact 17.
4) 274 not out - Stephen Fleming v Sri Lanka, Colombo, 2003
Balls faced: 476.
Team score: 515/7 dec.
Significance: Scored a huge double ton in his 50th test as captain.
Description: Was up against Sri Lankan all-time greats Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan on their turf and won the battle. The game petered out to a draw.
Scorecard: Value 19, quality 17, conditions 14, bowling strength 15, impact 17.
3) 188 - Martin Crowe v West Indies, Georgetown, 1985
Balls faced: 462.
Team score: 440.
Significance: The 22-year-old batted like a veteran to help his side avoid the follow-on.
Description: Marked himself out as a batter of sublime class with a conscientious knock against a devastating three-pronged pace attack of Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Joel Garner. The docile nature of the pitch helped out a tad.
Scorecard: Value 17, quality 17, conditions 12, bowling strength 19, impact 17.
2) 110 not out - Glenn Turner v Australia, Christchurch, 1974
Balls faced: 335.
Team score: 230/5.
Significance: Carried New Zealand to a maiden test win over Australia. Scored a century in the first innings as well to become the first New Zealander to achieve back-to-back hundreds in a game.
Description: Mastered tough batting conditions and a decent attack including the world's No 1 bowler, Max Walker.
Scorecard: Value 16, quality 17, conditions 17, bowling strength 14, impact 19.
1) 290 - Ross Taylor v Australia, Perth, 2015
Balls faced: 374.
Team score: 624.
Significance: The highest score in Australia by a visiting player.
Description: Smashed around an all-star Australian bowling line-up in very friendly batting conditions at the Waca. Mitchell Starc was bowling with extreme heat, though. Hit 160kmh at one point. The game was a draw.
Scorecard: Value 18, quality 17, conditions 13, bowling strength 19, impact 17.