Jarrod Kimber

Cyborg Williamson locks sights on England

New Zealand's No. 3 is a cricketing form of artificial intelligence. And he will destroy you

There must be a weakness. A way in. There must be something wrong with him.
His average is not yet 50. Not yet. But it seems like he should average infinity. His wicket brings puzzled looks, and you want to see the replay straight away, to make sure that something weird didn't just happen.
There are no wild triggers. He isn't clearing his front leg, letting his hands grope or slicing inside the ball. There will be no children copying his idiosyncrasies. There is one twirl of the bat, his feet going into a wide stance. He taps his bat between three and five times. And he bats.
He is programmed to bat.
You feel he would do it the exact same way if someone was throwing stones at his head from gully or the band Cannibal Corpse were playing at short leg.
In defense he has this almost boring characteristic of using the very middle of the bat, and watching the ball until it hits it in a freakishly earnest way. If the ball is short, he gets on top of it. If it is full, he moves positively towards it. The moment it leaves his bat, he looks for a single, as if his mind says, "home secure, must source food".
Balls outside off stump have him into position so early that his biggest decision seems to be where he wants to hit it, not if. Often he doesn't play at all, which consists of him moving across his stumps and hiding his bat behind his back. Watching the whole display from a bunker of his own design.
Then there are the guides. If there is a hole in the field, Williamson will put the ball there. He may not smash or slash it there, but he will guide it there and take whatever runs he needs. Modern cricket has decided that hole will be third man. Williamson will keep hitting the ball there until cricket has to make a decision.
If he thinks he needs to do something more than a guide, he hits through and turns his guide into a cut, or a back-foot punch. He's in the right spot for all of them. It just depends on where his artificial batting consciousness thinks there is a better chance of the maximum amount of runs.
If the ball is full, from a position almost identical to his forward defence, he pushes through the line. The follow through is finishing as mid-off or cover is scrambling to stop the unerringly well-timed shot. If the ball is straight and full, it is punched back past the bowler. It's not a sexy on drive, it's a repeatable on drive. When too straight, it is turned, midwicket, backward square, wherever there is no one to stop it. All of it on autopilot.
Short balls at his body are pulled with a security that mocks other men who play the same shot. It's not risky, or hurried, it's just played hard to the boundary. Bouncing him seems like a complete waste of your energy levels.
Bowling to him seems like a complete waste of your energy levels.
Kane Williamson will complete his hundred at Lord's on Saturday. If not, the only thing that can stop him making a hundred at Lord's would be a sudden zombie outbreak or Test cricket being smothered to death by a bag of T20 franchise cash.
At 24, he has an unbeaten 242 and eight other Test centuries. He should be on billboards. People should be drinking his soft drink. His face should be tattooed on tramp stamps the world over.
But he is the style-less assassin. An amalgam of all the best cricket technique. Too perfect and correct to be a rock star. He's too appropriate for a rock star. He makes too many correct choices.
Cricket academy leaders the world over have been trying to birth Williamson in cricket test tubes. And here he is. He does it all, simply, without fuss or gimmick. A child could not imitate him any better than they could bring a textbook to life.
He doesn't bring vengeance and pain with the bat, he brings the appropriate action. Then another appropriate action. Then hundreds more. All perfectly planned, brilliantly executed and almost joyless in their execution.
Williamson is a state-of-the-art modern batting machine. An unbeatable cricket cyborg.

Jarrod Kimber is a writer for ESPNcricinfo. @ajarrodkimber