Kane Williamson might want to continue playing all three formats, but New Zealand will be better served without him in T20Is, at least his recent numbers suggest so. The 32-year-old is an inspirational leader, however, he has been way below par with the bat for quite a while. Amongst batters from the top-10 ranked T20I nations, Williamson has the fifth-worst strike rate in this format since 2021 (minimum 500 deliveries), which tells the entire story.
The right-hander is averaging 33.68 in this time frame but most of his knocks have done more harm than good to his team. And, his 52-ball 61 in the 192-run chase against India in the second T20I on Sunday (November 20) was no different. The No. 3 batter was the second-highest run-scorer in the game and still got a rating of just 2.73 according to the Criclytics Report Card.
The Bay Oval surface was a bit tacky but India managed to post a challenging total thanks to Suryakumar Yadav’s 51-ball 111*. The target got, even tougher when the Black Caps lost Finn Allen in the very first over, and with the ball moving a bit, the onus fell on the shoulders of Devon Conway and Williamson to forge a partnership and put some pressure back on India.
The two did put on 56 runs for the second wicket but wasted almost eight overs to score those runs. Williamson, in particular, was on 12 off 19 deliveries at the end of six overs and this has been the case with him for two years now. His strike rate of 87.1 in the powerplay since 2021 is the second-worst after Temba Bavuma’s 85.4. Even in IPL 2022, Williamson’s strike rate in the first six overs was a mere 76.4.
The only reason he ended up with a strike rate of 117.31 in the second T20I was because he managed to hit Mohammed Siraj for a six and a four off consecutive deliveries in the 18th over but the game was well and truly dead by then. The likes of Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, and James Neesham had no other option but to hit from ball one but it was always going to be difficult on this surface.
Williamson clearly struggled against Bhuvneshwar Kumar with the new ball and didn’t even try to put any pressure on Yuzvendra Chahal and Deepak Hooda. He has a strike rate of just 108.1 against spin in T20Is since 2021 and every opponent knows that they can get away with some cheap overs of spin when Williamson is at the crease.
In only seven of his last 25 T20I innings, Williamson has operated at a strike rate of more than 120. He has a strike rate of just 100.9 in the second innings and that only puts more pressure on the other batters. Even in the last T20 World Cup, Williamson had an average of 35.6 but his strike rate was only 116.33. He did slam 61 off 35 against Ireland and that was the only time he looked dominating.
Williamson’s numbers in this format haven’t always been bad. The right-hander did enjoy a fruitful period from 2018 to 2020. In those three years, he crafted 2038 runs in 67 T20 innings at an average of 38.45 and a strike rate of 136.9. And, we all know what he did for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the Indian Premier League 2018 - 735 runs at an average of 52.5 and a strike rate of 142.44. Even though he only played 20 T20Is in this period, Williamson still produced pretty good numbers for New Zealand.
However, it’s pretty evident that the current version of Williamson, who has also been released by SRH, is having a negative impact on the bat for New Zealand. In case, he wants to continue playing T20Is, there is only one option available - the 32-year-old will have to start opening the innings and let Conway bat at No. 3. Unlike Williamson, Conway is an excellent player of spin and his demotion would allow the former to play more fast bowling.
Then what are NZC waiting for? It's time for them to make the harsh call and move on from the legendary skipper who has a lot to contribute in the other two formats. Australia, in a similar situation, decided to put Steve Smith on the back burner for a more dynamic Tim David, and if that is not a lesson enough, then not sure what is. No team can thrive on their main anchor batting with such output and New Zealand, of all teams, can least afford to.