Much has been made of the BLACKCAPS class of 2014; they’ve been winning Tests, winning series, fighting hard and breaking records. Our #statchat desk has been frantic this year keeping up with all they’ve achieved. It’s led many to ask the inevitable question: is this the greatest Test side we’ve ever seen? That’s a tough question so, for now, we’ll look at another question: has any BLACKCAP ever had a year as good as Brendon McCullum in 2014?
JR Reid set the record McCullum broke for most runs in a calendar year way back in 1965 – an impressive 49-year hold on the record. But Reid’s 1965 tally of one century and six 50s in a year where New Zealand didn’t win a Test can’t compete with McCullum’s achievements in 2014.
The Martin Crowe of 1985 was at his peak against some of the greatest players to ever take the field in Test cricket. His season featured 820 runs and included two centuries – twin scores of 188 against Australia and the dominant West Indies’ side of the era. The 1985 New Zealand side also managed four Test wins, tied for the most in a year before the 2014 Sri Lankan series started. But Crowe wasn’t the most dominant player in that side.
In more recent times, 2008 Daniel Vettori had an exceptional season – just the second BLACKCAP to pass 50 wickets in a year, while 2013 Ross Taylor surpassed the achievements of the 2012, 2009 & 2008 Ross Taylors. But there are only two true contenders for the honour of the New Zealand’s greatest when you look at just one year of their career: 1985 Sir Richard Hadlee and 2014 Brendon McCullum. Both of these players had record-breaking years, punctuated by one exceptional performance and backed-up by 12 months of consistency.
For Hadlee, it was 9 wickets in an innings against Australia in a year where he claimed 64 Test wickets. Only Hadlee and Vettori have claimed over 50 wickets for New Zealand in a single year while just 18 men in the history of cricket have claimed 9 or more wickets in an innings. Outside of his 9-for, 1985 Hadlee claimed six 5-wicket bags and two 10-wicket bags. Not only are these single year records for New Zealand, Daniel Vettori is the only other BLACKCAP to have taken more than two 10-wicket bags in his career. Against Australia, Hadlee took 33 wickets in just three Tests. He also scored 379 runs, including two 50s, at a shade over 27. There were a lot of great years for Sir Richard, but 1985 stood head and shoulders above the rest.
The tone for the Brendon McCullum of 2014 was set with a double century at Eden Park but it was his 302 at the Basin Reserve that set him apart. He then went on to record another double before just missing out on the milestone again at Hagley Oval on Boxing Day. 2014 McCullum was the first New Zealander to pass 1000 Test runs in a year, the first to score a triple century, and he joined prestigious company in adding two double centuries and a 195. He also claimed his first Test wicket, hit more sixes in the year than anyone before, and led New Zealand to five Test wins. With Kane Williamson he’s scored more Test centuries in a year than any other New Zealander and the pair have scored more runs in partnerships together in 2014 than any other pair in any other year. It’s been a great year to be Brendon McCullum.
Some more stats:
- Before 2014, the BLACKCAPS had recorded just 17 individual scores of 200+ – McCullum added three more to that list in 2014;
- Before 2014, no BLACKCAPS’ batsman had ever scored 300+ in an innings;
- Before 2014, Stephen Fleming held the record for the most scores of 200+ for the BLACKCAPS with three, McCullum’s scored three this year and now has four in his career;
- Before 1985, BLACKCAPS’ bowlers had claimed 65 5-wicket bags, Hadlee added 6 more to that tally in 1985;
- Before 1985, BLACKCAPS’ bowlers had claimed just seven 10-wicket bags, Hadlee already had four of those before adding two more in 1985;
For more on the highlights of 2014, check out our Year In Review