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World Cup Tour Diary

Killing time with captain Kane

New Zealand's press briefing ahead of the World Cup semi-final got off to a less-than-smooth start - luckily for all in attendance, a typically zen Williamson was at hand to entertain

Yash Jha
Kane Williamson had a quip or three to offer at the press briefing ahead of New Zealand's World Cup semi-final  •  ICC/Getty Images

Kane Williamson had a quip or three to offer at the press briefing ahead of New Zealand's World Cup semi-final  •  ICC/Getty Images

Reporter: "Kane, just going back in history a bit. 29th of May 1953, about 70 years back…"
Kane Williamson: "I remember, yeah!"
The room explodes in laughter. And so does Williamson.
It's nearly 2pm local time in Mumbai, and New Zealand's press briefing ahead of their World Cup semi-final against India at the Wankhede Stadium is beginning half an hour behind schedule. But it's taken the New Zealand captain three words to revive spirits on a balmy afternoon.
There's a pause in proceedings, as the organisers try to sort out audio issues, but Williamson's calm; he's smiling, laughing even.
A minute later, we go again.
Reporter: "Edmund Hillary became the first New Zealander to scale the Mount Everest. This New Zealand side is trying to do something similar, which no other New Zealand side has been able to do in the past. How's the emotion in the camp? What are the feelings like?"
Williamson: "Umm… yeah, good. I think these sorts of occasions are special. [I've] said before, playing cricket in this country, in general, is an opportunity most people don't get to have, let alone play a semi-final against the home nation. So we're very excited at the challenge."
Cue a stray recorded "mic check" audio that leaks into the room. "The mic's working, the mic's working," Williamson responds to the invisible voice.
But of course now we're having to pause once more while the media managers - both of the ICC and New Zealand - attempt to figure out where this disruption is coming from. While not quite chaotic, this session has hardly been smooth so far. The camerapersons at the back aren't pleased. The more impatient ones among the press pack begin to, well, get impatient. All this in 30 seconds.
Williamson, though, is unflustered. He's wearing that smile the world adores him for, still assuring everyone the mic is indeed working. "Mic check, mic check, mic check," he goes, keeping the mood of the room in check too.
"Okay, we start again, maybe?" But the checks aren't complete. "Oh, not yet."
A further minute passes. The New Zealand media manager has hinted that Williamson may not have the time to take as many questions as we had originally planned for. But Williamson has a remedy for that too: "I'll keep the answers short."
"This is actually the piece," says ESPNcricinfo's Osman Samiuddin (quietly, just to those of us sitting next to him, of course). That's right boss, I hear you! "Forget what he says after this!"
This state of limbo continues for a few more minutes, but Williamson is operating at a quip a minute. "You're the lucky man, you get the only question of the press conference," he says to the reporter who had begun proceedings for the day. "I can answer it five different ways too."
Finally, almost exactly seven minutes since the mic check first popped, we're good to go. Cue celebratory clapping in the press pack.
Williamson? He's the same as he was seven minutes ago. Same smile. Same calm. "Great question," he says, saving the reporter the task of repeating himself. It won't be his last quip this session, but for now he's in work mode.
Is there a more zen man in world cricket? You probably know all about it, you don't have to see it to believe it, but being in the same room sure does help!

Yash Jha is a multi-platform content producer and presenter for ESPNcricinfo