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Alex Winter at Bristol
May 10, 2012
Gloucestershire 169 for 2 (Williamson 89*) v Yorkshire
Few would have expected such a scorecard at the end of a day when at the start everything pointed to a feast for the bowlers. Heavy cloud, a brisk wind, intermittent rain and the deluge that was very well soaked up by the Bristol outfield were the factors in Andrew Gale's decision to bowl first. Had he inspected a little closer under the covers, he might have made a different call.
Though even if a reasonable deck were to have been discovered, the horrendous light - which prevented play later in the day - was reason enough to send Gloucestershire in. It was miserable. Benny Howell edged to third slip in Tim Bresnan's second over and everything was as expected. But then Kane Williamson provided a classy innings.
Last season, he looked a good player with a very correct technique. There wasn't much excitement about him; he didn't make the eye-catching scores one would hope from an overseas signing; he made one century - on a terribly flat pitch at Leicester. He was getting a good run in the New Zealand team, playing all formats of the game, without too much success. His run had been earned by a century on debut in Ahmedabad and the general perception that he was the future for New Zealand.
His subsequent scores didn't match that glorious debut and observers wondered whether he had been thrust in too soon. One innings changed those doubts. Battling on the final day to save a Test against South Africa at Wellington he made an unbeaten 102. He was dropped, hit on the body, sliced in two, beaten on countless occasions but made an innings of much acclaim against arguably the most fearsome attack in world cricket: Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander. It confirmed his talent in some fashion.
"That was a great challenge," Williamson said. "They came really hard and it was a really nice innings to play against such quality bowlers. It was an interesting period in the winter; I didn't spend too much time at the crease. We played Zimbabwe and I wasn't required much of the time."
Arriving back for a second season with Gloucestershire, he made 128 in the second innings at Derby. If he can add another 11 runs tomorrow it will be three consecutive centuries for Williamson and Gloucestershire's faith that John Bracewell had plucked a star in the making will be restored.
He was sublime after making a 90-ball half-century against perhaps the best new-ball partnership he will face all season. Ryan Sidebottom and Bresnan quickly became frustrated at their lack of penetration and especially at Williamson's ability to play with the most delicate of hands - playing under his nose; guiding runs through gully.
He has seemed to gain an ability to score more easily, overcoming a lack of power. His off-side play was a joy to watch. Coming forward with a large stride he drove straight and through cover exactly as the textbook describes. Equally, going back he was quickly into a comfortable position and timed several boundaries to the shorter tennis-court boundary.
The chief criticism of his cricket is playing the short ball: a few times he was found out in Australia. Here there was no short bowling to worry about - Bresnan and Sidebottom bowled full but found little enjoyment off a slow surface. The only time Williamson pulled was a long hop from Anthony McGrath - dispatched over square leg.
The 146 Williamson and Chris Dent added in 43 overs was the third century stand Williamson has contributed to in the two games he has played for Gloucestershire - highlighting his value to an order that would otherwise have to be led by Dent. He was more patient, taking 123 balls to reach fifty and didn't play any of the pleasant drives his partner showed. But he cut very well and ground out a score in a challenging situation. He fell to Steven Patterson, lbw playing back, as Yorkshire found something late on a day they expected far more from.
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