Welcome 2015 – the year in which cricket’s most prestigious tournament returns to Australia and New Zealand. I distinctly remember waking up to the news of the fastest ODI hundred record being broken on the morning of 1st January 2014. Afridi ( whose record had been bettered ) and innumerable cricket lovers worldwide had not heard of Corey Anderson – the man who belted the fastest ODI hundred then. Since then, Anderson has been spoken off only during his whirlwind knock which helped Mumbai Indians chase down 190 runs in 14.4 overs set by the Royals and thus edge out the Royals on the basis of a better net run rate to qualify for the knockouts.
The Black Caps – one of the first countries to celebrate the New Year is also one of the country with the finest work ethic on the field. The Black Caps have a tradition to punch their weight over the others when it comes to the World Cup. The team which doesn’t really boast of stars is always the team to watch out for. The team is known to win big matches on the sheer ability of its collective talent and unity. One man that could help New Zealand go right up the summit is Kane Williamson.
This griity right-handed batsman has an impressive footwork and a compact technique. A guy whose name is hardly spoken of but still works silently and guides New Zealand to important wins,Williamson’s attributes include patience and persistence, much to the Dravidian style of play. It is said that Williamson, at one point,was known to have an outrageous average of 400 during his formative years at school. Kane was always rated highly in New Zealand Cricket after he led New Zealand to the semi-final of the U-19 world cup in 2008 in Malaysia. ( their first semi final appearance after 1998 ). Lady luck smiled and he was asked to make a tough Test debut on a turning Motera pitch against India in November 2010. Against India’s best spin pair of Harbhajan and Ojha then, the lad made a gritty 131 in his maiden innings to lead New Zealand’s fightback, thus becoming only the eighth New Zealander to score a test century on debut. With key performances in 2013 and 2014 and being named in the ICC Test team of the year 2014, Williamson looks set for a promising future.
Quiet and meticulous and in a batting order filled with belligerence, Williamson’s orthodox approach may not be pleasing to watch but his silken touch has allowed New Zealand to revolve its batting around him. Providing the right flair for the number 3 position, Williamson allows McCullum and Taylor to play their natural game while he drops anchor. The collective fine performances of the trio along with the bowlers have made 2014 as one of the best years for the Black Caps. On a personal level as well, this has been a good year for Williamson. He led New Zealand to a series win in UAE in McCullum’s absence thus proving his credentials as captain. With a hundred and 2 fifties in the series against Pakistan, Williamson is all set to carry this form into the new year with a 7 match ODI series against Sri Lanka.
The one down position in the batting order is pivotal, in the essence, that it allows the batsman to dictate the game, either set a target or set up the chase. For India, it is Virat and for South Africa it is Amla ( who eventually has moved up to open the batting ). Williamson, a self -confessed admirer of Amla carries a calm head like Amla himself and can also rise to the occasion with an aggressive knock to chase down a target. This makes him one of the most sought after youngsters in World Cricket today. Besides cricket, Williamson is an all round athlete with good skills in rugby, basketball and football. Reminds me of the great ABD here. An interesting fact I’d like to share here – Kane has scored 4 ODI Centuries so far 2 each in a win and a loss and all 4 against different oppositions, 3 in the first innings of the game and 1 in the second innings. Dravid had exactly the same stats in his first 4 centuries in ODI’s.Do we have another “Jammy” in the making? Possibly, yes. If Williamson borrows even 1/3 rd of the traits of each of ABD, Amla and Dravid, the lad would mean serious business.
The tale of the World Cups will now be different. With no Sachin Tendulkar, the World Cup has lost its major sheen. However it allows cricket aficionados to look at other players who could become World Cup heroes. In a batting line up filled with aggression right from McCullum, Taylor, Anderson and Neesham, Williamson at 3 could provide the ideal foil to dictate the game for New Zealand. Williamson was in the side that played the World Cup semi final in 2011 and knows the pressure and expectations of his countrymen back home. New Zealand have not had a batsman after Martin Crowe who has dominated the World Cup single-handedly. Have they found one this time, only time will tell.
They have the team, they have the batters, they have the bowlers and they have the support, this could be the best chance the Black Caps have to break their semi final jinx and play the final. And the man who stands out for me in this line up is Williamson. If he performs consistently, he could well write his name in the history of New Zealand Cricket.
This is a Guest Post by Nilay Shah completed his B.E in Electronics and Telecommunication and is Currently pursuing MBA – Marketing from KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research. He is an avid follower and lover of Cricket which includes writing and discussing the same, a food lover, loves travelling and believes in living life to the fullest.