A seasoned IPL citizen, Kane

New Zealand’s Kane Williamson isn’t the usual swashbuckling T20 player. For him it is not always about huge sixes that clears the ropes with ease. The Kiwi is an orthodox textbook player with great skills and temperament – a lethal combination.

Sunrisers Hyderabad's Kane Williamson during a training session.   -  KVS Giri

New Zealand’s Kane Williamson isn’t the usual swashbuckling T20 player. For him it is not always about huge sixes that clears the ropes with ease. The Kiwi is an orthodox textbook player with great skills and temperament – a lethal combination.

Williamson’s talent was never under the scanner from the day he made his debut eight years ago. While leading New Zealand was just a matter of time, taking charge of Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League came by accident, after David Warner was banned from playing the game, following his involvement in ball-tampering saga.

Taking over the reins from the Australian, the Kiwi had taken to the job like how a fish does to water. Williamson has proved that T20 cricket is not always about huge sixes but it is about consistency in finding the boundaries, the run-a-ball runs and also about the tactical acumen he has about individual talents in his army.

In an interaction, the New Zealand and Sunrisers skipper gave a sneak-peek into a variety of topics.


On captaining a franchise-based team

There are a number of differences between captaining an international team and a franchise-based team. In this format, we have so many players from different countries and cultures that you get to know, trying to understand as best as you can to help and operate as colleagues. As much as the differences remain in franchise-based cricket, it is also an enjoyable journey as well and fortunately, I have a really good bunch of guys and this season has been brilliant for our team.

On adapting to the challenges of franchise-based cricket

Yes, there are always challenges and obviously, here the captaincy came about in a very quick notice. But, once again the players and many other leaders we have helped a lot in the leadership of this team. It has been an enjoyable challenge and there is also a bit of learning all the time.

On the team and their individual roles

Everyone has their role in the team and they are trying to contribute to their role as much as they can. The nice part of a T20 game which is, sometimes the big strike rate or the four overs or sometimes run a ball has really been a valuable contribution. It is nice to be on the top of the table in the league phase. The team is doing well, but at the same time, there haven't been too many similarities in the pitches that we played on, which is one of the most important things and we have done well in adapting to that with both the bat and ball.

On how you have adapted to batting in the T20 format

I haven’t changed too many things. For me, it is just trying to not to focus too much on the strike rate. I think, in the shortest format you are looking at your options to create a harsh strike rate if need be and keep that as the main focus. Batting wise, I just try and adapt to my game subtly and I might not hit like an AB (de Villiers), (Chris) Gayle or a (David) Warner at times, but I try to play my game and suit my role given in the team. We have been in situations where the strike rate has been a bit lower at times because of the variety of surfaces we are playing on, but if the contribution is such that the team moves forward, my focus and everybody else's focus lies there. However, rather than making big changes, it is all about making a little change and looking at your areas where you want to pick up your boundaries keeping in mind the surface, the situation and the bowler.

Kane Williamson and Sunrisers Hyderabad head coach Tom Moody.   -  K.V.S Giri

One takeaway from the IPL

It just often comes back to the team for me because as a group we always want to walk in the same direction with a bunch of good fellows playing some good cricket and hopefully playing it in a way that it’s for a common cause. I guess it is about removing yourself and then doing what team requires. Personally and actually, being in a position of leadership is a source of things which is very pleasing to me.

On David Warner’s absence and Alex Hales replacing him

I don’t think it is a matter of replacing (David) Warner. I think that is probably an impossible thing to do. Warner is one of the best batters in T20 in the world and for this franchise. We also know how destructive Hales can get. He is world class and he has shown it on the world stage. It is great to see him play with freedom, like how he had shown the world in the past in getting off to blazing starts. Hales is a great option for us at the top of the order but it is never a case of replacing Warner.

On team meetings and strategies

You often discuss a little bit about the opposition, but you don’t want that to blow the focus of you as a team, the strengths and what you want to commit to with performing skills and abilities that give us the best chance. We discuss all areas of the game – batting, bowling and fielding. It is also about wanting to make small improvements all the time, and they are just small improvements.

On Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan and facing him at the nets

Rashid is tough to pick and trying to play him in the nets can be a real challenge as he bowls quickly and spins the ball both ways. He has been bowling nicely in the games and Wriddhiman Saha plays an important role too, as the wicketkeeping aspect (for Rashid) is very vital in keeping the partnership going. He has always been close to making many winning contributions with the bat too. With the pace Rashid bowls, naturally adjusting can quite difficult.

On how has Siddharth Kaul has impressed him?

I think he would get a chance to don the Indian jersey soon. He is a brilliant T20 bowler. We have seen that in the past and we saw it last year and now this year. When, as a captain, I am looking for aggressive options to operate at the death and that is one of his strengths. He is using his changes and getting the yorkers at the death perfectly.