The Art Of Being Kane Williamson

Kane Williamson acknowledging the appreciation from the crowd after hitting a match winning century at Edgbaston, against South Africa, CWC’19
Picture Courtesy: ESPN Cricinfo

Termed by many as the coolest head alongside Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the current era, Kane is already a Kiwi giant and is on the verge of achieving greatness.

February 28, 2015. ICC Cricket World Cup. Auckland. It was the battle between the two neighbouring nations, Australia and New Zealand. Chasing a modest total of 152, Brendon McCullum came out, like he always does, all guns blazing. But all of a sudden, courtesy a fiery Starc spell, the Kiwis slipped from 78 for no loss to 79 for the loss of four wickets and then to 146 for nine. Starc had just finished his ninth over, and six runs were still required.

It was a case of touch and go, and from an unlikely position, the Aussies had victory in sight. But the 5 foot 9 inches, 24-year-old, Kane Williamson had other ideas. Pat Cummins came in to bowl the 24th over, and on the very first ball, Kane made room and hit the ball over long-on for a maximum. That was that. New Zealand had won the thriller.

It wasn’t the first time that Kane had won a match for his nation, but given the World Cup pressure (add to that the pressure of being the host nation), and the fragile situation they were in, that was one of the shots of the tournament.

Many things have changed since that match. Barack Obama isn’t the American President anymore. Brexit is a reality. Iron Man is dead. Bob Dylan now has a Nobel Prize. New Zealand has lost two consecutive World Cup Finals, but the aura of Kane Williamson has remained all the same.

Born in a sports-loving family, Kane was what you call a prodigy and already had around 40 centuries before he left school. In 2010, after getting out on successive ducks in the first two one day innings of his career, he showed his prowess, hitting a century against Bangladesh in Dhaka. In the same year, he started his test career with a defiant 131 off 299 balls against India in India (we know how difficult it has been, in recent years, to score a century against India in India, let alone on debut).

A batsman par excellence, Kane has the technique, patience and concentration required to excel on an international level. When in flow, which is more often than not, he is immaculate. His gap piercing shots are a sight to behold. A natural test player, he has adopted the shorter formats as a fish takes to water.

Along the years, Kane has played a number of fine knocks for his side, but one of his most important ones came in the recently concluded World Cup in England and Wales, against South Africa. Chasing 242 in 49 overs (due to rain), wickets fell all around him. He didn’t panic and with the help of Neesham and Grandhomme, took the Kiwis home, completing his century in the last over with a six. There were many tense moments in the match – the missed review by SA, the wicket of Grandhomme, but the moment no one forgets was the dab he played on the last ball of the penultimate over off the bowling of Lungi Ngidi.

He later clarified that he just wanted a single off that ball, but the precision with which he guided the ball fetched him four runs and brought the winning margin from 12 to 8. Against West Indies, he made a mighty fine 148 off 154. Apart from these, there was the Williamson-Taylor partnership in the Semi-Final, which helped New Zealand humble India (the tournament favourites), at Old Trafford.

An astute captain, Kane understands the game probably better than any one of his contemporaries. He took over the reign of captaincy when Brendon McCullum retired from international cricket, and boy, isn’t he doing wonders. It was his shrewd captaincy that brought his IPL team Sunrisers Hyderabad to the finals of the last edition. This year he ALMOST captained his national side, New Zealand, to World Cup glory. He was, however, named the Captain of the ICC CWC’19 Team of the Tournament.

Cricket is a game of fine margins, and it was further proven on the eve of 14th of July, at the home of cricket, Lord’s, when New Zealand lost to England on boundary count, after both the match and super over ended in a tie. Such is his grace that while everyone in the New Zealand camp was distraught, Kane Williamson stood on the sidelines, silently caressing his beard. When a TV presenter informed him that he was chosen as the Player of the Tournament, sounding dumbstruck, he asked, ‘Me?’. That said everything about the man.

An average nearing 53 in Tests, around 48 in ODIs and more than 31 in T20Is along with 33 centuries and 78 half-centuries tells you why he is spoken so highly of in world cricket. But it’s not only these stats which make him one of the best in the business; it’s his simplicity, it’s the calmness inside his head, it’s the spirit with which he plays the game. Termed by many as the coolest head alongside Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the current era, Kane is already a Kiwi giant and is on the verge of achieving greatness.

Thank You, Kane Williamson, for gracing this beautiful game.

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