Saturday, October 16, 2021
HomeCricketThe two moments of Williamson brilliance that led New Zealand to victory

The two moments of Williamson brilliance that led New Zealand to victory

The two moments of Williamson brilliance that led New Zealand to victory

Among New Zealand’s victory in the World Test Championship final in Southampton overnight, it was two other minor moments that underlined how captain Kane Williamson led his team to ultimate success.

There has hardly been a more deserving skipper to hoist a sports trophy in the air, and Williamson’s balance on the field and with the bat on Day 6 was essential.

The first of those moments was when India pursued fast, lower-order races in an effort to secure New Zealand a tricky total on even trickier terrain.

Mohammed Shami was throwing the bat like he does and had hit three limits with seven balls. Thirty more points on the board could have completely changed the color of the game, and Williamson knew it.

So, while Shami was skinning them, what did Captain Kane do?

Moved a man in a fly slip, that brilliantly absurd flying position. Sure enough, the next bullet fell directly into this man’s lap. India was later eliminated, setting a total just within the reach of the Black Caps.

It was a pivotal moment in the game, and a time when we saw other captains (Tim Paine and Joe Root, for example) struggling.

Williamson’s second moment of poise was with a bat in his hand.

Indian Jasprit Bumrah was asking the toughest questions of him and Ross Taylor, with every poll delivery as the shadows lengthened in Southampton.

A lengthy delivery to Taylor had badly misbehaved, spitting two feet higher than his blade, and crashing into his helmet.

It was too ominous a sign, like someone needed it, that the pitch wasn’t playing particularly easily. It was also the kind of bullet that would have skyrocketed Henry Nicholls’ heart rate at number five.

But, soon after, Williamson instilled a sense of calm, as he always does.

Still in charge, Bumrah was pushed through the covers by Williamson, with the Test Match shot possibly being given the circumstances.

This brought New Zealand closer to victory, but was worth more than four points on the scoreboard. It underscored to a nervous Black Caps locker room that they were in good hands, despite designer Tim Southee’s statement that these were the “139 longest runs I’ve ever seen.”

Taylor then spoke about his nerves as he walked towards the crease at 2-44.

“It was not easy to start,” he conceded. “But Kane kept saying it was going to get easier.”

(Photo by Nathan Stirk-ICC / ICC via Getty Images)

Williamson’s worth is generally easy to measure – in races. His 49 and 52 combined here, for example, were considerably more than any other player on the pitch.

He will end his career as the top scorer in New Zealand history by the length of the straight from Flemington. But its value is so much more than that.

These are the aforementioned commissioning moves, which included an ingenious short leg / square leg / deep square conga line for Neil Wagner.

It’s the ability to absorb pressure knowing that things will get better, the calming personality where one’s demeanor remains stable regardless of the state of the game.

That’s the obvious respect he has from anyone who shoots White for New Zealand.

As much as the victory has been hailed as “poetic justice” for the Black Caps or good karma for past acts, this is all hogwash.

The sport doesn’t care if you’ve come close to it or are good guys, and cricket gods don’t exist. You just have to attack yourself, over and over, until you win – and that’s exactly what the Black Caps did.

The defeat at the 2015 and 2019 World Cups did not deter them, and it is this resilience that makes them universally admired among cricket watchers.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson lifts the trophy

(Photo by Adam Davy / PA Images via Getty Images)

In the end, it was a pretty quick win at Southampton, in three and a half days of (real) action.

BJ Watling got the ultimate farewell, while for veterans like Taylor and Neil Wagner, it might be a moment that won’t get any better. Because it really is the golden age of New Zealand cricket.

The addition of Kyle Jamieson (Player of the Game) and Devon Conway to this already strong Black Caps team has turned a good team into a great one, perhaps the best of all.

For India, introspection will follow but the truth is that they were far from poor. Their seamers, in particular, were superb but, in the end, had too few passes to work with.

Losing eight wickets looks overwhelming, but the truth is there were nice margins in the game given the conditions.

Another 40 second heats could have set up a grandstand finish.

While New Zealand rightly wins the applause, it is Virat Kohli’s side that have arguably been the best team in the world over the past two years.

A victory in the next series in England, to complement the recent series victory in Australia, would underline this further.

And finally, the interest in last week’s World Trial Championship final has shown that she is here to stay.

The first iteration of the championship was heavily compromised and riddled with problems mainly due to the pandemic.

But it seems to have the approval of key stakeholders – especially gamers – and if done right, it will be a boost to the traditional format of the game.

 

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