“Despite all the talks about the short boundaries and high-scoring matches in New Zealand, someone like Williamson is needed to steady the ship and this is going to be his primary role with the bat in hand in the ODI side”.
Finally, following a patchy T20 International (T20I) Tri-nation series, New Zealand are returning to the 50-over format, in which by far they are a superior side. The Kiwis had won eight successive One-Day Internationals (ODI) against the West Indies and Pakistan during their 13-match winning streak in all formats earlier this summer. And one of the most important craftsmen of those triumphs was skipper Kane Williamson, who is averaging 49.83 with the bat in home ODIs this season.
After battling with form in the T20Is series, he will be much-relieved to get back to the ODI set-up. Williamson has made only 143 runs in nine T20Is innings this home summer at 17.88, with one score above 19. However, his last five ODI scores at home were – 115, 19, 73, 32, 22.
Clearly, in the 50-over format, where he gets more time to build his innings, Williamson is a far better player altogether. Much like Steven Smith, Virat Kohli, Joe Root and other contemporary greats, the Blackcaps captain is not exactly a ‘hit out or get out’ type of batsman. He needs time to build his innings and in ODIs, at No. 3, he gets that. As a result, his ODI stats (average of 46.51) are far more dominating compared to his T20I record (batting average of 31.33 with a strike-rate of 120.95).
Hence, Williamson is expected to be New Zealand’s best-equipped batsman to take on the impressive English attack in the upcoming five-match ODI series, which starts in Hamilton on Sunday. Despite all the talks about the short boundaries and high-scoring matches in New Zealand, someone like Williamson is needed to steady the ship and this is going to be his primary role with the bat in hand in the ODI side. And he thrives in this role.
“It’s important not to get carried away”
Even in his post-match presser, Williamson spoke about adapting to the ODI format, which according to him will be ‘fairly different’ from the T20Is.
“I think we park the T20 for now and we focus on a lot of the good one-day cricket we’ve been playing,” the hosts’ captain said. “The plans and the blueprints are fairly different as it’s a much longer format so it’s important we go back to that.”
Here Williamson also spoke about a vital issue — the importance of a defensive technique for a batsman in the ODIs, which we often neglect in the T20s.
“I think T20 cricket keeps pushing the boundaries of cricket, whether into the one-day game or even the Test game – you see people being a lot more positive,” he added further. “But at the same time, that doesn’t completely change it, because you do get on surfaces that require a lot more batsmanship, perhaps more defence for a period of time, to get through some of those tougher moments.”
Yes, he agrees with the fact that T20 cricket is having an influence in the other two formats. But Williamson reckons, it is important not to get carried away.
“It’s definitely having an influence because it’s important not to get carried away with the influence when the conditions of the pitch may dictate something else,” he said.
The Eoin Morgan-led England are a tough team to beat, especially in ODIs. For the Kiwi skipper, they are the best in the business. Furthermore, they are coming to New Zealand having outplayed the Australians in their own backyard. However, New Zealand also have enjoyed a good home run of late. Hence, we can expect a highly competitive series over the next week and half.
And as the home skipper has confirmed, New Zealand will be expecting no T20I hangover, both in the team as well as in Williamson’s form.