Wednesday, 7 January 2015

McCullum/Watling or Williamson/Watling?

In just under one year, New Zealand (and the world) have borne witness to two world records in cricket, coincidentally both for the sixth wicket and both featuring diminutive wicketkeeper BJ Watling.  He partnered his skipper last year in that 352 and this year he partnered skipper in waiting Kane Wiulliamson for their 365 unbeaten.  So which was better?

Let's look at last years effort.  It came at a time where NZ were down in the dumps, a low 1st innings score batting first and NZ 94 for 5 in their second innings, having trailed India by 246 runs..  352 runs later Watling was dismissed for his highest test score of 124.  This partnership laid the foundation for what was to become a New Zealand first and record, McCullums 302 (helped by Jimmy Neesham.)  It meant NZ could safely play for a win but also to ensure a draw for a series win.

This year was very similar, however the other big top order stalwarts, McCullum and Taylor were gone early in the second innings and NZ were teetering at 159 for 5, a lead of 24 with 5 second innings wickets in hand.  Up step two true heroes, Kane Williamson and BJ Watling.  They knuckled down and Williamson rode his luck (3 dropped catches and a missed stumping) whilst at the other end Watling played stoically and chancelessly.  Their innings probably had more riding on it than the previous record innings but by no means not as important.

I can't accurately rate the first record in boundaries as McCullum played with 3 partners but I can Watling and Williamsons.  Kane scored 18 fours and BJ 9 fours and one six, for a total of 114 runs out of 365. That left 251 runs all run, over 700 odd balls faced.  The milestones are now well recorded as they achieved continuously throughout the partnership and at the close of the innings with the world record theirs for the keeping (or Watling/Taylor next year??)

So which is the best.  Obviously saying 365 is the new record means a lot but is it the best based on that.  Lots of similarities in both innings, behind after being put in, fighting back, and putting the game safe.  Both at the Basin Reserve and both achieved against teams ahead of NZ in the rankings.  The McCullum one rates highly as he went on to make history twice.  But so did Williamson and Watling.  Their score got the team out of a position of impending defeat and in a position to attack for the win.  Yet that almost happened last year too.  If it hadn't been for Virat Kohli righting India's ship the win could have happened.  In that it didn't tarnishes that partnership and makes the latest one stand alone as the greatest.

And yes, we haven't seen the best out of this team yet.  We're seeing plenty, but we need to play the top three in the rankings (England in May, Aussie next year, and SA whenever) to see how we really are progressing.  For now I will savour every delicious moment this team produces.

Winners are Grinners.

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