Not many people turning up to the Basin today would have been expecting to witness the second fastest century scored by a New Zealander. It was the ninth equal fastest overall, and the fastest against the West Indies.
And few would have predicted the only century maker of the day would be Colin de Grandhomme, or de GHO as shown on the scoreboard.
Coming into this test there was a transient appearance to the New Zealand middle order.
Santner does not look as at home in the whites as he does in short-form cricket where his role is established. de Grandhomme had yet to nail it in either discipline and injury replacement Tom Blundell was on debut. The order of these three today seemed a little random too.
Santner didn’t do anything to dispel concerns about his batting at this level; beaten for pace. When he left at 281/6 New Zealand had begun to lose their way a little bit.
But the attack was starting to tire, the pitch was at its flattest and de Grandhomme in particular knew this was time to fill his boots. This scenario was totally in his sweet spot. 11 fours and 3 sixes later he reached his century in 71 balls.
Blundell’s innings in comparison seemed an understated affair, even though he did score at a decent clip and loved the short stuff. He became only the third New Zealand wicket keeper to make a 50 on debut (Ronchi and McCullum)
The late day onslaught was set up by another polished innings from Ross Taylor who seemed destined to rack up test century number 17, and a positive knock from Henry Nicholls who does like batting at the Basin
This is a cripplingly defensive West Indies side. The best example of this is the refusal to play Devendra Bishoo in this test. Even at home New Zealand batsmen consistently struggle against top class spin bowling.
Their field settings today were very defensive. Early in his innings Henry Nicholls played an uppish pull shot through mid-wicket for four. The immediate response to put more players on the boundary. The only times the home batsmen looked truly uncomfortable was against short pitched bowling. But, unlike yesterday, it was rare to see close-in fieldsmen or even a decent slip cordon.
Waiting for 59 overs before getting a bowler to swap ends for the first time is pretty stubborn captaincy too. Then there was a lengthy spell from Brathwaite with a newish ball to de Grandhomme and Blundell.
At every level of sport you take your chances however they come. You can never take away a 71 ball test century.
Footnote: Brendan McCullum’s fastest ever test century was last year. It seems a lot longer ago than that.