New Zealand v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Hamilton, 4th day December 21, 2015

Laying off short ball was key - Williamson


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'Nice to be recognised with McCullum's good year' - Williamson

Omitting the pull and hook shots early in his innings was what Kane Williamson has said was the key to scoring the second-innings ton that saw his side to victory in the Hamilton Test.

"All the guys like to play the pull, but like any shot, on some surfaces it's important you try to select the right ball," Williamson said. "I was a victim of that in the first innings as well, having played the pull shot a lot in previous games and thinking I could go out and do that again. I wanted to make sure I was sounder in my decision making in the second innings."

Day three of the match had seen 15 wickets fall to short deliveries as batsmen from both teams failed to contend with sustained bouncer barrages. Williamson scored the only hundred of the match, finishing on 108 not out, but was also the only batsman to cross 50 in the second innings.

He occasionally utilised the pull in his second innings, but each of those shots were controlled, and generally played towards the ground. Williamson said he adjusted his batting plan after having been out hooking for one in his first dig.

"I think in the first innings we didn't adapt to the change in the surface and the extra bounce compared to Dunedin. The bounce was a bit variable - some stood up and some kissed through quickly and quite steep to make it more difficult. I wanted to take in a sound game plan to stick to. That meant initially going under the ball when it was hard and then, as it got softer, when the bowlers had a few overs under the belt, I'd look to play the pull bit more. It was important not to get carried away with the shot."

Williamson, who broke the New Zealand records for most centuries and runs in a calendar year -- five and 1172 respectively -- during his second-innings century, said it was pleasing to be recognised but stressed team success. His tally puts him at fifth for highest run-scorers in 2015 -- behind Alastair Cook, Joe Root, David Warner and Steven Smith -- though his average of 90.15 is more than 13 runs higher than that of any other batsman to have scored 400 runs. The innings at Hamilton comprised 57% of New Zealand's fourth innings score of 189.

"It's always nice to get a score but it means more when you spend some time in the middle and make a larger contribution to a team performance," Williamson said. "The wicket wasn't easy to bat on. It wasn't the biggest chase but it seemed some distance away because both teams came up with pretty sound bowling plans."

Williamson lauded the adaptability of New Zealand's seam bowlers, who had largely bowled full in search of edges in the first innings. Nine of their second-innings wickets had come from the short ball, however, with the tenth being a run out, also partly caused by the use of a bouncer.

"We've got good swing bowlers and guys that seam the ball, but to have to basically all of them come on the other side of the wicket and bowled short to execute a plan, was very good to see," Williamson said. "It was different to all those Tests, certainly, that I've played. We had to adopt very different tactics. Sri Lanka bowled the short ball very well, and we certainly learnt from their efforts in our second innings in the field."

Dushmantha Chameera had been particularly effective for Sri Lanka with the bouncer, picking up his first five-wicket haul in the first innings, and taking 9 for 115 in the match.

"Chameera's a very talented bowler," Williamson said. "Anyone that bowls with good pace is an asset to a side. Coming over here on slightly greener surfaces that we feel are suited to our bowlers, he bowled very well on them. I'm sure he will get a lot out of coming over here, playing in these conditions, and continue to improve."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jared on December 22, 2015, 8:27 GMT

    @ stratocaster, I'm not a stats man but just thought Fleming was dumped with the captaincy too young and because of it we never really got the best out of him with the bat, he was an amazing batting talent but really fell short of what he should of achieved, Kane Williamson is on another level though but will still have to take time off thinking about his batting to worry about all the other things captains have to do and I'd rather he just bat, if it doesn't effect his batting then OK but if it does give me someone else quick.

  • Andrew on December 22, 2015, 5:37 GMT


    Yes, NZ, as fifth ranked test nation, should play more test series against SA, England and Australia. Look at how few tests Kane Williamson required to become ICC No.1 batsman - far fewer than those available to Indian/England/Australian players! Yet England, Australia and England have complete control over the test schedule. NZ, SL, Pakistan and SA get the crumbs.

  • Izmi on December 21, 2015, 23:15 GMT

    Despite losing the test series to NZ 2-0 one of the positives for Sri Lanka is the bowling effort of 23 year old paceman Chameera whose smooth run up and bowling action resembles Brett Lee. Though he is tall and skinny and doesn't look much of a sportsman at first glance he has a slinging action and generates enough pace bowling at around 140 kph consistently. With a little more effort and bit of muscular frame he should be able to generate even more speed and bounce from the wicket and reach over 150kph. His bowling effort against the likes of Williamson, McCallum and Taylor in the second test is ample proof of his immense potential as a fast bowler which is quite rare by Sri Lanka standards known for it's spinners. If he can maintain his fitness and try to remain injury free he could be a great asset to Sri Lanka cricket for years to come and could change the complexion of a game instantly with his unplayable bouncers as witnessed in the Kiwis first innings.

  • Geoff on December 21, 2015, 19:57 GMT

    Kane Williamson is 5 years ahead of his time compared with a typical good test player. It takes such players until they are 30 before they truly work out their game and become consistent. Williamson has demonstrated that he's already done it at 24-25. The only thing that can stop him now is losing hunger for the game. No bowler's going to do it.

  • Peter on December 21, 2015, 19:40 GMT

    Definitely one the premier batsmen in test cricket. The memory of him playing Johnson at the Gabba during that incredible spell when he reduced the NZ batting order to its knees was indelible. He wasn't ruffled, rushed or unsettled. He won a lot of admirers that day & from one of the toughest crowds about to please. The best compliment I can give is, I wish he was an Aussie. Cheers.

  • Stratocaster on December 21, 2015, 19:00 GMT

    @Kiwicricketnut Stephen Fleming! Guy was as elegant as I ever saw but far too inconsistent. Barely averaging over 40 but I thought captaincy got the best out of him. I am sure someone could compare his stats before and during captaincy period. I'm sure there wouldn't be much of a difference. Never really saw someone as inconsistent as him.

  • jared on December 21, 2015, 11:30 GMT

    @ Alexk400, your not alone, I too don't want Kane burdened by the captaincy, not because he can't cope or do the job well, I just want him to concentrate on batting, he's not much of a talker off the field either so the media won't get much out of him as he tends to shy away from the limelight, problem is there isn't too many contenders for the job, Rosco won't want it that's for sure, the guy who's most qualified for the job is tom Latham or maybe Watling but they don't play all formats, tough one, its going to be Kane and he deserves it and will think of it as an honour but I think of it as a bit of a burden and wish someone would take it off his shoulders, lets hope it doesn't effect his batting like it did Stephen Flemings.

  • RYAN on December 21, 2015, 9:23 GMT

    It is good to see a young batsman stepping up and playing with such great responsibility for his side. Contemporaries around his same age who are struggling and younger players should take notice of his approach. Also good to see that he shrugs off personal acclaim, seeks to praise the efforts of others and talks about the interest of the team over his own personal milestones. I hope that he continues to be like this and does not fall for the hype surrounding him. I know he has acted in leadership capacity in the past. If this happens in the future I hope he does not falter with the bat as has happened to many talented batsmen in the past. I wish him a long, successful and distinguished career. Among all the young batsmen doing well today ( Kohli, Smith, Root) I think that he is the best and my personal favorite.

  • Alex on December 21, 2015, 8:58 GMT

    The day he become captain his form will desert him. All the people who praises him find him at fault with poor leadership. I am the nostradamous. Making him captain will be a big mistake because he is more like sachin than sangakarra or steve smith. Not all skilled productive players are good as a leader. Making him captain is giving him more load and less food. If NZ wants to appreciate his contribution , pay him more. There is nothing like money. He can not be captain because i want his break all the records and i am being greedy in that. But some nz people may want to overpraise his batting skills and try to reward him wrongly by making captain. Root , and Kane can not be captain. Its like falling from top...only way is down!.

  • jared on December 21, 2015, 8:48 GMT

    He will never score as many runs as the other greats he's going to be measured against but that's only because nz don't play as many tests, his average on the other hand will be right up there with the very best of them, true great, so happy he's a kiwi

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