Kane Williamson and New Zealand’s array of impressive captains

back icon
safari
05 Jul 2020 | 08:22 AM
author
Nitin Fernandes

Kane Williamson and New Zealand’s array of impressive captains

On this day, eight years ago, Williamson led New Zealand in an ODI for the first time and he has impressed as captain since taking charge full-time a few years later

heart

Share

On 5 July 2012, with Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum being unavailable, Kane Williamson became the youngest man to captain New Zealand in ODIs. Having impressed at the U-19 World Cup a few years earlier, Williamson was seen as a future captaincy prospect from the beginning of his international career. But even considering that, rarely does a player captain an ODI team before their 22nd birthday – in fact, in men’s cricket, only seven players have done so.

Williamson’s first ODI as captain didn’t exactly go according to plan. With batting mainstays Taylor and McCullum missing, the Blackcaps were handed a hiding by the West Indies. A defeat followed in the second ODI as well and it was in his third game as captain that he finally managed to lead his team to victory.

The then-bigwigs returned to the team and Williamson had to wait for more than two years for his next shot at captaincy in ODIs. After his first tryst with the role in 2012, for most of the next few years, Williamson was the understudy to McCullum and this was the ideal learning curve for the Tauranga-born cricketer.

McCullum, whose brand of attacking cricket was not just limited to his batting but also shone through his captaincy, retired from international cricket at the start of 2016 and Williamson was the obvious pick to take over at the helm. By this time, the then-25-year-old was already among the world’s elite when it came to batting, so there was no doubting his quality as a player. But not all great cricketers in the past had turned out to be outstanding captains, so there were no guarantees.

In 2015, New Zealand famously reached the World Cup final after playing some exhilarating cricket along the way. The team was playing in the mirror image of their then-captain McCullum. While they didn’t win the tournament, it was a noteworthy run which cricket fans across the globe will fondly remember for a long time to come.

Four years later, the Kiwis once again made it to the final of the marquee ODI event. This time under the leadership of Williamson, they’d fall short – in Ian Smith’s unforgettable words – “by the barest of margins”. After 50 overs each and a Super Over, England and New Zealand couldn’t be separated in terms of runs. But the rules were such that the former won as a result of more boundaries scored, a rule that has since been changed.

At the end of the final, New Zealand – especially Williamson – were applauded for the grace in which they accepted defeat despite the heartbreaking circumstances in which it had come about.

There were huge differences between the 2015 and 2019 runs to the final though. In the World Cup in their home continent, New Zealand were loud and played a brand of cricket that constantly had you on the edge of your seat. 

In England, in 2019, it was the opposite. Their scoring rate had dropped greatly compared to the previous World Cup. In fact, it was much lower than the aggregate run-rate at this particular edition of the tournament with only Afghanistan scoring slower.

The approach might have changed from four years earlier, but the results went in a similar direction. Without creating much of a fuss, they would win their first five completed matches at the tournament. If the 2015 campaign mirrored McCullum, here the Blackcaps were performing much like Williamson – not very loud but incredibly efficient. When tight contests came along, they knew how to get over the line.

There was a blip in form in the latter stages of the league phase, but that didn’t stop them from qualifying for the semi-finals where they defended a total of 239 by 18 runs against a strong Indian batting line-up. Thereby, once again displaying great efficiency in a close contest.

New Zealand’s performance during the 2019 World Cup of course can’t be spoken about without mentioning Williamson’s batting at the tournament.  After scoring 578 runs at an average of 82.57, he was named the Player of the Tournament – a feat another great New Zealand captain, Martin Crowe, had managed in 1992.

Williamson currently averages 49.56 in ODIs while playing as captain which is the highest by any New Zealand skipper and the fifth-highest overall (minimum – 20 innings). If you ever required an example for the commonly-used phrase ‘leading from the front’, then you needn’t look far from Williamson.

Under the 29-year-old in 50-over cricket, New Zealand have currently won 41 matches and lost 33 which results in a win/loss ratio of 1.24, the joint-second best among all Blackcaps skippers who’ve led in at least 20 ODIs – an excellent return.

New Zealand’s three most impressive World Cup performances have arguably come in 1992, 2015 and 2019. A striking resemblance to the three campaigns is that they had inventive captains who effectively got their teams to play in their own styles. Over the last three decades, the Blackcaps have been blessed with some exceptional captains – Stephen Fleming and Daniel Vettori included – and with time on his side, Williamson has the opportunity to become the most successful of them all.

heart
shareGray Share
Tags
New ZealandKane Stuart Williamson

Related Articles

safari
NEWS
New Zealand were lucky to reach WC final, it's time to achieve something special: McCullum
The 38-year-old McCullum heaped praise on Williamson and said it's time for the Kiwis to get over the excuses of the past
userPTI
14 Sep 2020
safari
NEWS
Fallout with Taylor a bad stain for New Zealand cricket: McCullum
Brendon McCullum succeeded Ross Taylor as captain in 2012 under controversial circumstances
userPTI
22 Mar 2020
safari
OPINION
Williamson stamps authority to rally New Zealand ahead
The Kiwi skipper hit a classy 89 on the second day against India to give his side a chance of getting a defining first-innings lead
userSomesh Agarwal
22 Feb 2020
safari
NEWS
WTC points system unfair: Williamson
Williamson's sentiment was also echoed by one of his senior teammates Ross Taylor, who was also critical of the points system
userPTI
20 Feb 2020
safari
NEWS
Morgan hails McCullum influence ahead of final
The England captain revealed that he was close mates with McCullum
userAFP
13 Jul 2019
safari
ANALYSIS
New Zealand vs England: The summit clash
Both teams are aiming to win the World Cup for the first time.
userNitin Fernandes
13 Jul 2019
safari
NEWS
Group defeats doesn't bother Williamson
Losses to Australia and England earlier in the tournament would have no bearing in the final according to Williamson
userAFP
11 Jul 2019
safari
NEWS
New Zealand have the firepower to win maiden World Cup title, feels McCullum
Kane Williamson’s side are almost certain of a place in the 2019 semi-finals already, sitting top of the 10-team table with five wins and a no result from six matches.
userAFP
23 Jun 2019
safari
NEWS
Williamson is New Zealand's greatest ODI player, says Vettori
Williamson made an unbeaten 106 to help his side beat South Africa
userAFP
20 Jun 2019
safari
ANALYSIS
New Zealand - Last Year’s Finalists, Perennial Underdogs
New Zealand has a well-rounded squad with, however, a few shortcomings
userShubh Aggarwal
28 May 2019
logo
Cricket like never before
Follow us on
FacebookTwitterLinkedin
@ 2020 cricket.com | All rights reserved