When Robert Frost eloquently described the dilemma that ran through him on being at junctions of the road less travelled and the one preferred, he hardly was referring to the talented Kane Stuart Williamson who too had remained stuck in a similar situation while turning out for the Tauranga Boys’ College in 2004. Defined as a player who had the “thirst to be phenomenal”, Williamson found himself at crossroads, wherein he had to choose his path towards stardom by either aping the aggressive Herschelle Gibbs or going in with the orthodox style of play. When the world around was busy latching on to the upcoming mode of T20 cricket, Williamson hesitated to follow the norm and remained confined to the words in the coaching manuals. And that has made all the difference.
The cricketing realm houses a diversity of personalities, who all come together with a singular aim. While David Warner appears a beast out at the crease, Joe Root is a nervous bundle of nerves. While AB de Villiers is a reincarnation of Spiderman, Virat Kohli is infused with passion whereas Steven Smith is astute in his ways. Almost as a kaleidoscope of emotions and skills, where every player unites as one to beautifully paint the sport with their own pastels and hues. In this abstract art, lies Williamson’s quirky shade of tranquillity. Calm, composed and sorted. Off the field, he is the epitome of shyness while on it he is the being who eats up the deliveries with utmost ease.
The most accurate of lines will be met with an even more accurate drive. The reverse wing will be dealt with and the back foot through cover point will be as sublime as ever. If the ball is shorter, he uses the crease to his advantage. If the ball is pitched forward, the feet do their work. William Wordsworth in his “Preface to Lyrical Ballads” defined poetry as a spontaneous overflow of feelings. Recollected in serenity, Williamson is just that- a figure of artistic movements encapsulated in the world of perfect timings and artistic shots.
It is for a reason that Martin Crowe handpicked him as a modern day phenomenon and a future legend. Alongside Kohli, Root and Smith, who are all enigmas in their own rights, Williamson has managed to hold his own in a team that has been in a rebuilding phase after the departure of Brendan McCullum. A Test average of 50.58 with 17 hundreds, that took him past Crowe’s record, stands testimony to the talent possessed within him. With all four players recently being involved in some series or the other, it would be a good time to stack the numbers since the beginning of January 2016.
The New Zealander has managed to score 1265 runs in 17 matches at an average of 52.70 in the interim. The team has toured India, South Africa and Zimbabwe and other than averaging 33.75 in India, he has touched 40 in all the other countries, with his average leapfrogging to 136 in Zimbabwe. At home, he has played matches against Australia, Bangladesh Pakistan and is currently playing the West Indies with an average of 48.37 at home, including three hundreds. He was given the captaincy immediately after the farewell of McCullum and since then, he has adequately shown his ability to thrive under pressure.
Joe Root consists of an overall Test average of 53.05, which is a tad higher than his 51.04 since January 2016. England have toured Bangladesh, Australia, India and South Africa- the countries that provide the greatest test for a cricketer. In South Africa and India he managed a ton each but his lack of scores in Bangladesh did not go amiss. He has played 14 matches at home and has averaged 57.73 against Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies and South Africa. In the on-going Ashes, he is yet to make an impact, with a 35.50 and for England to mark a comeback, Root, who has played just 9 games as captain, has to steadily pitch in match-winning performances.
While Williamson proves a handy contest for Root, the duo of Smith and Kohli seem too far ahead in the race line with numbers that are jaw-dropping astonishing. Kohli has six double hundreds since June last year while Smith has an average of 71.28 in India, a country in which the mighty Australian often perished. While Kohli has averages of above 54 in every country that he has played in, Smith has eight hundreds and an average of 65.56 since the beginning of 2016. Kohli, on the other hand averages an impressive 75.80 since last year.
But the only major blip was the three matches he played against Australia at home this year, where he managed a high score of 15 and an average of just 9.20. With India only touring Sri Lanka and West Indies in twenty-four months, Kohli’s biggest Test will arise when the Indian team sets foot in South Africa, which will begin the overseas season for the side.
|Averages for the modern era “Fab Four” since January 2016|
|Kane Williamson||Joe Root||Steven Smith||Virat Kohli
|Overall||50.58 in 63 matches||53.03 in 62 matches||60.40 in 58 matches||53.75 in 63 matches|
|Since January 2016||52.70 in 17 matches||51.04 in 26 matches||65.56 in 20 matches||75.80 in 22 matches|
|At home||48.37 in 11 matches
|57.73 in 14 matches||76.36 in 9 matches||80.95 in 15 matches*|
|Away||61.37 in 6 matches
|44.34 in 12 matches||59.31 in 11 matches||58.85 in 7 matches|
*Includes the paltry series against Australia, in which he averaged 9.20
Even though it is well early into their careers, each of the above four players have shown immense talent and potential to transform into a cricketer who will be remembered every time the sport becomes a topic of discussion. Williamson, with his monk-like stance, stands out from the other three for this very reason and as greater challenges await him, his temperament will be challenged as well. If he can maintain that just as well- unfurled and uncomplicated, there is no reason why he cannot become one of the greatest players from his country.