Kane Williamson, Northern Districts' 18-year old middle-order batsman who hit his maiden first-class century this week, has been marked out as New Zealand's future Michael Clarke by his domestic coach Grant Bradburn.
Williamson, who captained the New Zealand Under-19 side in the 2008 World Cup in Malaysia, is Northern Districts' leading run-scorer in first-class games this season with 614 runs at 51.16 from seven matches. He also scored 320 runs at 45.71 in 11 State Shield games.
But Bradburn and other domestic coaches believe Williamson needs some time in the domestic circuit before he can make a successful elevation up to international cricket. "He's had a great season with us and I'd like to see him have at least one more of those before he's playing at the top level," Bradburn told the Herald on Sunday.
Matt Horne, the former New Zealand opening batsman and current Auckland coach, called Williamson a "breath of fresh air" and said the best thing was to give him two years to become comfortable with his game. "We have to accept he is still a teenager and while he is very, very talented the tendency in cricket when you're young is to miss more than you hit so he should be allowed to develop a skill base that will allow him to succeed straight away when he plays for New Zealand, which he undoubtedly will.
"He likes to play the game at his tempo. He quickly establishes where his boundary options are and then has follow-up options where he can work singles and turn over strike."
Williamson is also a handy offspinner, a skill which could push him towards national contention earlier than Bradburn and Horne would like. Bradburn warned that Williamson's bowling was still raw. "At the moment he loves bowling and is having success but he's not really sure why he's succeeding," Bradburn said. "I've been so impressed with his skills with the ball. He turns it a lot, has wonderful control, has a simple action and, most importantly, loves bowling and wants to be thrown the ball."