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Zephyr Kane Williamson & the Art of Portraying Silent Runs

Williamson stands at the top of the ladder

Did you see Virat Kohli smashing Australia the other day? You surely did. Did you witness Steve Smith with another century? Or did you notice Joe Root with another beautiful flick? Oh, you saw everyone! A great fan of Test cricket, I suppose, you are! Well, how many runs did Kane Williamson make? Any idea? Not really? That’s what he does, portraying silent runs.

He is incredibly humble. Kind. Quiet and dedicated. Hard working in every aspect. Nothing to brag, never be a cocky. There are neither colorful firecrackers, nor fanfare. Not loud, but gentle calmness. There are no viral tweets or story of his shadow batting in the hotel, or no promotional posts in a social shape. He is still a human of the current world; he is Kane Williamson.

It was around the start of 2021, more than three years before date when a zephyr Williamson just guided the tiny south Pacific Island to the number one rank for the very first time in the format’s history. A few would realize the weight of the achievement for the smallest population of any of the 12 Test nations and an annual revenue less than the Surrey County club.

Williamson and his constant stroke play with a red strain bat

There is Bazball, there is Root and many of England’s renovating reverse sweeps, or Rishabh Pant’s one hand six over long-on at the Gabba in 2021, or fascinating power in the modern flamboyant era.

Yet, there must be nothing more overwhelming than Williamson walking to the crease, and showing off the biggest red strain in the absolute center of his Gray Nicolls blade; the second time I saw something like that, the first being Kraigg Braithwaite, who seemed to have colored his willow in the red water bucket.

Williamson and the red stain of his bat
©- Ben Strang/ Twitter

He is a freak, a sort of anomalous in scoring runs and giving expressions. Even when they were judged second in the 2019 World Cup final against England, his expression was kind of, ‘yeah, it’s as it is’, and most of the time, it’s the same facial expression in the presser. When Williamson scores centuries these days, it’s sort of ‘yeah, it’s as it is’ event for the opposition team.

Going back a few years, the gorgeous thing to see in his batting was early on his innings, how comfortably Williamson would guide the ball in the slip corridor and open his account, and adjust the grill of his helmet.

He is considered as the most natural talented player for New Zealand, but he never gets convinced with these words, quite unfairly though. “It’s hard to know what natural is.” In an interview in 2015 with ‘The Cricket Monthly’, Williamson found the rare moment. “Talent or 10,000 hours (of practice), which one is it?”

In his words, he never finds himself as the exceptional guy; everyone is gifted as Williamson believed. But what makes a guy perfect is how they practice; the mode and ironically not the amount. As Williamson used to practice from a really young age, but still he never looks back at those times in a practice mode, he was just having fun by then.

“Kane wasn’t like other kids, they played for fun. He plays for a different reason- he played to succeed. That was how he had fun.” Doug Bracewell, Williamson’s team mate analyzed.

Sky is Blue, Roses are Red & Bumrah is the Best at Present

Williamson and his old school approach catches the eyes too often

He walks gently, bats purely, shows old school approach, he shows hunger, he bats like Kane Williamson.  

He pushed the last ball of the tour through extra cover for a boundary, to help New Zealand make history, which is beating South Africa in a Test series after 18 attempts, five of which had Williamson involved. Had that ball got any life in it, it might love Williamson, for that sweet timing, and not how other around crashed it. New Zealand completed their highest successful chase at Seddon Park, Hamilton.

Most would feel the series was easy, and why not? For them, it was the South Africa’s Z Test team, but they described it only because they watched the highlights, or the scorecards in most occasions, rather than live cricket.

It was a tough surface, with slow turn available, something that Dane Piedt explored beautifully for his eight-wicket haul in the game. Williamson showed huge temperament and concentration to deny him from playing early shots. “He gets into his batting bubble and it’s a happy place.” New Zealand captain, Tim Southee, cracked. “We joke about it that he doesn’t like spending time with us, he’d rather spend it out in the middle.”

Williamson bats in his old school approach
©- Ben Strang/ Twitter

It takes whole of an experience, a good amount of various skill, and a bit of luck, and Williamson carries all three of them in his kitbag. The way he punches the ball in the backfoot, and distributes the shots all around the wagon wheel, it’s a different skill to have, something the bowlers don’t love at all.

When he dived awkwardly on the rope, in the opening game of the last IPL in Ahmedabad, and was almost carried off the ground, it felt like he would miss the World Cup towards the end of 2023. He suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and went surgery. The video of him in the airport back home, and then the rehab process to pick up a bat after around eight months, and to reach this position, it takes dedication, long hard dedication towards his own game and the team.

Portraying silent runs and getting unnoticed: The Williamson saga

He has scored many runs, and most of these, or rather all of these in a silent manner. Everyone knows the stats of Kohli, or Smith or Root, but not so attentive towards Williamson, and just when he adds a reason being a step over others among the ‘Fab Four’, coined by his countryman, Williamson still sits at the bottom! Reason? Oh, he doesn’t score impactful runs, they say!

Williamson is just 176 short from being the highest run getter for New Zealand in all three combined formats, just behind Ross Taylor (18199). In the innings corridor, Taylor has featured in 94 innings more than Kane, who averages 66.09 with 45 centuries and 96 half centuries at the moment.

When it comes to their Test cricket, Williamson has gone past Taylor a few years ago, and at the moment, he has 983-runs more with 24 less innings.

The most recent verdict they come up with is, in comparison is that according to ESPNcricinfo, the year 2018 was the second toughest to bat on in 147-years of red ball cricket. The collective batting average was 26.28 in 2018, the second lowest after 25.77 in 1959. Kohli had an average of 1322 runs in the same year at an average of 55.08. Great! How many Williamson collected? 651 runs at 59.18. Undoubtedly the number of runs are less, but the in 12 innings, the amount of chances of scoring those runs are always on the down side. The more chances you get, the more opportunity of developing your numbers.

In overall Test cricket, Kane stands at 32 centuries, only equaled by Smith, among those ‘Fab Four’, and the Australian has played 19 innings more than Williamson. Root sits with 30 hundreds in 80 more innings, while Kohli at the bottom with 29 in same number of innings of Smith.

Williamson in action of playing his favorites cut shot
©- Cricbuzz/ Twitter

Perhaps, you haven’t noticed it, but Williamson now has celebrated his 34th fifty for a whooping eight times. Sounds funny? It’s given he has actually scored seven centuries in his last eight Tests, and every time, he has a fifty, he has gone on to score a century. He also now is the fastest to reach 32 centuries. Williamson now has scored the joint-most number of second innings centuries in Tests- five- yet to taste a defeat in any of those.

The next month will surely put him in a different zone. Australia is coming to the Island, as have been Smith, Mitchel Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood. If everything goes by plan, Williamson will feature in his 100th Test alongside Southee at the Hagley Oval, Christchurch.

Last time, NZ won a Test series against the Aussies was back in 1990, in an one-off Test, when Williamson was born. The last time they won a Test series over the Aussies, in 1986, none of Southee and Williamson was around. They have a chance to end home summer with history. And Williamson will be their artist, portraying silent runs.

That Mad Writer
Author: That Mad Writer

Someone who loves how Steve Smith from being Australia's future Shane Warne has become present Don Bradman, gets inspired by Anderson's longevity, gets awed with Kohli's drive and Southee's bowling action. Never gets excited with stats and records, and believes in instincts, and always questions spinners bowling with the new ball.

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