Kane Williamson is one of cricket’s modern greats. His on-field stoic charm combined with his batting abilities perhaps even make him the greatest batsman New Zealand has produced.
Williamson finished the World Cup with 578 runs and was adjudged the Player of the Tournament — scant solace, at best, for not ending on the winning side of a gut-wrenching final against England at Lord’s.
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In the super over, soon after Jason Roy’s throw found Martin Guptill short and Jos Buttler completed the run-out at full stretch, the Kiwi players were seen hugging each other, consoling each other, while still in control of their emotions. This is a team that has often been held in high regard for upholding nobility in a hard game.
“The team lays importance on ensuring that we grow the game while playing it,” Williamson says. “It’s always tough to get a very accurate bearing on what sort of an impact we have on those watching us, but one can only hope that it leaves a good impression on everyone.”
In person, Williamson comes across as amiable, calm and funny even. He looks every bit the man for a crisis. “Whatever dog we are, it’s just important that we focus on the cricket that we want to play and we have seen over the years that anybody can beat anybody regardless of breed of dog,” was Williamson’s response to a question about his team’s underdog status.
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“Everyone will talk about it (World Cup final) for a long time, but you move on and the schedule continues. I suppose having three formats, it’s quite refreshing when you change between them. After a lot of white-ball cricket, the Test team’s excited to get back into the groove. It’s quite a different side,” says Williamson.
“After a campaign like the World Cup, involving two months of pretty intense cricket, there’s always a drop in intensity, but it’s also enjoyable when you join a slightly different squad. They bring a really good energy and the guys who were involved in the World Cup are also looking forward to linking up with the Test side.”
The World Test Championship begins on August 1, two weeks after the World Cup ended. New Zealand will play two Tests and three T20 Internationals in Sri Lanka starting August 14 and the Kiwi skipper is excited about the new challenge.
“The World Test Championship is a refreshing change, an opportunity to grow new interest in Test cricket. The context around it — it’s almost a tournament-based format where it’s played over two years with a final makes it a very thrilling thing to be involved in.
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“Every team is going to try and reach the final, but as we saw even during the World Cup, which was played over two months, the focus was on the immediate result. So the key will be to negotiate the challenges at hand and give ourselves the best chance of getting there (final).
“I suppose over the space of two years, you are going to see several different players potentially involved with squads around the world because it is such a long period and the conditions are so different wherever you are playing.”
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