The Cricketer
Owen Riley Owen Riley

TEST PERFORMANCE OF THE MONTH: KANE WILLIAMSON’S HAMILTON HUNDRED

176 v South Africa, 3rd Test, Hamilton

In the galloping quartet of run-scoring, thoroughbred captains that are dominating world cricket, Kane Williamson garners the least attention and commands the fewest column inches. But there he is, a Blackcap dressed in white, head down, eyes blinkered, stealthily executing his craft with modest-yet-ruthless efficiency.

His latest piece, a rich tapestry woven together with quick-hand cuts, back-foot drives, stubborn resilience and the composure of a man who has never been dragged from his comfort zone.

At just 26, it has long seemed inevitable that Williamson will surpass records set by the Blackcap greats that have preceded him. Under Hamilton skies, Kane’s Seddon Park century punched two more records into New Zealand’s history book.

A short delivery from Vernon Philander was dispatched over square leg for six to confirm Williamson as the quickest Kiwi to 5,000 Test runs (110 innings). Dean Elgar was driven for four past long-on to bring up his century, equalling the 17 Test hundreds registered by the inimitable Martin Crowe.

Williamson is alongside illustrious company, and if he continues on his current path - a beautifully straight line punctuated with hundred after hundred - he will soon be on a lofty pedestal all of his own. Head down, feet planted, elbow high.

It was no surprise to see Williamson awarded the Sir Richard Hadlee Medal at the New Zealand Cricket Awards for the second successive year. And it will be no further surprise to see KS Williamson appearing in those history books, and others, on many more occasions before time is called on the New Zealand captain’s Test career.

How does he compare with his peers? Williamson has scored Test centuries against all nine Test-playing nations, it took him just 91 innings, the next swiftest to complete the set was Kumar Sangakkara in 114. It took Sachin 192. 

Meanwhile, Australia's Steve Smith is currently on the crest of a never-breaking wave, one Hokusai would have been proud to print. Joe Root is about to start penning the next chapter of his England career, and India skipper Virat Kohli continues to be an intoxicating blend of incandescent talent, a man with a rare penchant for double-hundreds, and the odd double-standard poured into the mix.

  Tests Runs Average HS Fifties Hundreds
Kane Williamson  61 (13*) 5,116 51.16 242* 25  17
Virat Kohli  57 (26*) 4,497 49.41 235 14  16
Joe Root  53 (0*) 4,594 52.80 254 27  11
Steve Smith  54 (24*) 5,251  61.05  215 20  20

*Tests as captain

Williamson is currently occupied offering his services in the IPL, donning the technicolour-fireball linen of Sunrisers Hyderabad. He has scored 204 runs at 68 in four knocks (89, 21, 54*, 40) with a strike rate of 174.35 - the highest of the competition’s top 20 run-scorers.

His stature may not be that of broad-shouldered big-hitters like Aaron Finch or Chris Gayle, but he is eagled-eyed, possesses rapid wrists and the timing of a Zurich train. Williamson’s displays in white-ball salvos show that skills bred in cricket’s purist form can shine through brightest against the IPL’s lurid uniforms and Guy-Fawkes pyrotechnics.

He fools you into thinking he is composing a simple melody, but before you know it, he’s shredding a spine-shivering riff, setting his Stratocaster on fire and snogging the nearest floozy. He’s Simon, Garfunkel and Hendrix rolled into one aggressively tranquil, beautifully nightmarish artist.

That’s all well and good, cricket’s most-modern form will continue to thrill and divide like a salty yeast extract, but that’s just one realm of cricket’s ever-changing landscape. It is Test cricket where Williamson’s legacy will endure.

Nobody will remember the 89 he hit against Delhi Daredevils in match 21 of IPL10. What they will remember is where they were when he equalled Crowe’s 17 Test hundreds, who they were with as he became the quickest Kiwi to 5,000 Test runs, the commentary when he becomes New Zealand’s first to pass 10,000. That may be some years down the line, luckily for us, we get to watch it unfold.

Great men have gone before him, but for New Zealand cricket, Williamson is forging a new path. Head down, feet planted, elbow high.