Eons ago I started this series with the best ever WA team with fewer than 16 Tests. Why? Well, why not? I've got to…
From the day he scored his maiden Test century, in his first innings in the series against India back in 2010, Kane Williamson’s skills were never in doubt.
His 38* from 41 balls helped the Kiwis advance to semis in 2011 World Cup, but it was his Test century against South Africa next year that saw him score a draw against the No.1 Test team.
Within a few years, it was clear Williamson was the nation’s future captain once Brendon McCullum stepped down.
The Black Caps started the 2016 World T20 in great fashion, defeating tournament favourites India and reaching the semi-finals undefeated. Williamson’s shrewdness and understanding of game impressed everyone.
But defeats to India, South Africa, Australia, England and poor performance in the Champions Trophy, which included a loss to Bangladesh, raised eyebrows over his captaincy.
Perhaps lack of other alternative saved his job. Martin Guptill still hasn’t found his place in the Test team, Tom Latham is struggling for consistency, while Corey Anderson has waned after his fight in semis against South Africa in 2015 World Cup.
But amidst those failures came the masterstrokes of promoting Colin Munro to an opener in the limited-over format and dropping Latham to the middle order.
Both the moves have paid off and the Kiwis look much more settled. While they came close to winning a limited-over series in India back in 2017 they managed to get wins over Pakistan and England in their own backyard.
But it’s in the IPL where Williamson has come to the fore, due to the absence of David Warner due to the sandpaper-gate saga.
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Williamson has not just become the only IPL player this season to score four half-centuries, but has successfully defended low scores – 118, 132 and 151 – three times in a row.
The former IPL champs look all set to regain the trophy this year as a result of the Kiwi’s innovative and fearless captaincy. This was most recently on show when he handed the ball to the spinner Yusuf Pathan, who had not bowled at all this tournament, when opposition skipper Ajinkya Rahane was well set and Ben Stokes looked ready to close the innings out. But Yusuf dismissed Stokes with his second ball, which eventually handed Sunrisers Hyderabad victory.
A master move indeed from the skipper – don’t be surprised if Hyderabad go all the way this year.
Kane will inspire more wins with his tactical genius and what a time it is to peak, just a year before World Cup – don’t be surprised to see Kiwis right up there as favourites.