Wisden 2016 - Leading cricketer in the world

Kane Williamson

Wisden staff

Kane Williamson ended the Test year as he began it - with a century at home against Sri Lanka. In between his 242 at Wellington in January and his 108 at Hamilton in December, both unbeaten, he confirmed himself as one of the talents of his generation, a No. 3 who combined an aesthete's technique with a glutton's appetite. The sight of Williamson modestly raising his bat to acknowledge another landmark became uncannily familiar.

Others hit the ball harder (David Warner) or in more places (A. B. de Villiers) or even in stranger places (Steve Smith); others shone in marquee series (Joe Root) or bloody-mindedly proved points (Alastair Cook and Younis Khan). But Williamson floated serenely along, an advert for elegant understatement in a New Zealand team who could hardly believe their luck.

By Christmas, Brendon McCullum - who watched his national record for most Test runs in a year (1,164 in 2014) fall to his young team-mate - had made up his mind. "He's a genius," he said. "He's going to hate me saying it, but he's No. 1 in the world. He's a consummate professional, he's a champion fella and he's only 25. He's going to be one of the best players the game has ever seen." When McCullum announced he would be calling it a day in early 2016, the captaincy for the World Twenty20 passed inevitably to Williamson.

Only four men finished 2015 with more Test runs than his 1,172 at 90, but all four - Smith, Root, Cook and Warner - enjoyed at least eight more innings. And only team-mate Martin Guptill scored more one-day international runs than his 1,376 at 57. Williamson, however, was alone in reaching four figures in both formats, and his overall international tally was an eye-watering 2,692 - a full 323 ahead of second-placed Smith, and the third-highest annual total of all time. No matter how tightly opposition captains packed the off side, Williamson seemed to find a way through.

There were eight hundreds, 14 fifties, 309 fours and - as if to surprise those who might have been blinded by his orthodoxy - 14 sixes. If there was room for improvement - he was out five times in the nineties - then it merely underlined how prolific he had become.

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