Kane Williamson: 19 facts about the Kiwi superstar

Kane Stuart Williamson, born August 8, 1990, is a New Zealand cricketer who is currently one of the best batsmen in the world. His form in the recent times has been instrumental in taking New Zealand cricket to newer heights. On his 25th birthday, Suvajit Mustafi looks at 19 interesting facts about the baby-faced Tauranga lad. [Also Read: Kane Williamson: Life and times]

1.  Twin brother: Williamson has a twin brother Logan. Kane is a few minutes older and according to their parents the twins have always shared a great bond. Williamson has three older sisters.

2.  Sporting ambience: The Williamson family took copious interest in sports. His sisters played volleyball, and cousin Dan Cleaver plays for Central Districts. Gary Briad, a former All Black, lived in the neighbourhood. His sons too play rugby union. Trent Boult lived nearby, and Doug Bracewell was a childhood friend of the twins.

3.  Copious talent: Right from a young age, Williamson was seen as the next big thing in New Zealand cricket. He was playing representative cricket at 14 and First-Class at 17. He had 40 hundreds to his name by the time he left school and, at age 20, scored a century on Test debut.

4.  Rugby and basketball: New Zealand’s passion for rugby is well-known. But rugby is the last thing one would associate with Williamson, given his physique. But, as a kid, he excelled in rugby as well. He was an excellent fly-half. He starred at basketball and was named the most valuable player at the mid-northern junior secondary schools tournament in 2005.

5.  Loves surfing: Williamson loves surfing and now lives in Mount Maunganui, a famous white-sand beach suburb of Tauranga. He stays very near to the place where he grew up. When he is not playing cricket, he catches up with friends and surfing. Recently, while playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the 2015 edition of Indian Premier League (IPL), he was seen surfing with South African pace ace Dale Steyn as both shared the same passion.

6.  Statistics: Williamson is one cricketer who doesn’t care for statistics. “My personal average is not that important when I am trying to contribute to the team as much as I can,’ he was quoted as saying in ESPNCricinfo. He averages over 51 in Tests and 47 in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and his mates hail him as a complete team-man. He is currently the third-ranked Test batsman in the world.

7.  Head Prefect: Williamson attended Tauranga Boy’s College from 2004 to 2008. He was the Head Prefect in his final year. In an interview with New Zealand Herald, his coach Josh Syms said, “He had a thirst to be phenomenal, but not at anyone else’s expense. It was more ‘this is what I love, this is what I’m good at, so I’m going to do that.’ He’s calculating; he boils things down to nuts and bolts. He’ll take the emotion out of it and ask: ‘If I do this, what will be the outcome?’ He identifies the problem and how he’s going to solve it. He works out what’s going to happen.”

8.  Philanthropic: New Zealand cricketers don’t get paid like some of the bigger teams, but Williamson had no hesitation to part away with his match-fees for the entire ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE, last year. He donated thousands of dollars to the families of the Peshawar school attack victims. The incident in December 2014 took lives of 141 people which included 132 children.

9.  U-19 World Cup: Williamson was only 17, when he led the New Zealand Under-19 side in the World Cup in Malaysia in 2008. He led the side to the semi-final where they lose to Virat Kohli’s India, who went on to become champions. Phil Hughes, who passed away last year, was the vice-captain of the Australian side. Hughes and Williamson have played a lot of cricket together and the former’s death had left the latter shattered.

10.  Dream debut: Williamson made his Test debut at the age of 20 at Ahmedabad and showed his skills against Indian spin-attack by scoring a patient 131. Earlier, with his off-spin he had also got the wicket of Suresh Raina.

11.  Proving again: After his debut Test hundred, Williamson had to wait for almost a year and half for the next one. At Wellington in 2012, South Africa had set New Zealand 389 for a win and had reduced the hosts to 32 for three. Morne Morkel was taking wickets at will, and Dale Steyn was at his lethal best, as Kiwis stared at defeat. Williamson fought it out and scored an unbeaten 102 out of the team’s 200 to ensure a draw. The knock is rated as one of the best by a Kiwi batsman.

12.  Colossal stand: Sri Lanka tried their best to stage a comeback in the 2014-15 Test series, but Williamson had other plans. In the second Test at Wellington, inspired by a Kumar Sangakkara double hundred, Sri Lanka secured a 135-run first innings lead. In reply, the Kiwis once struggling at 159 for five, put up a gigantic 524 to pull off a 193-run win. Williamson scored an unbeaten 242 and added a record 365-stand for the sixth wicket along with wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

13.  Best Kiwi bat ever? New Zealand have produced the sublime likes of Martin Crowe, Glenn Turner and Ross Taylor, but Brendon McCullum believes that Williamson will go down as New Zealand greatest batsman. The tag currently belongs to Crowe, but Crowe himself believes that the tag will very soon be with Williamson.

14.  Sachin Tendulkar: Tendulkar has inspired a generation of cricketers. Williamson, though born almost a year after Tendulkar’s Test debut, has been lucky to play against his childhood idol. In his last six ODI innings, Williamson has 7 90s in his ODI career. He has got five of them in 2015. Only person to have more 90s in a calendar year is Tendulkar — 6 in 2007. Since the start of 2014, Williamson averages 54 in ODIs and over 66 in Test cricket.

15.  Sealed with a six

kkane

One of the famed rivalries of cricket is the Trans-Tasman one. It was a crucial World Cup group game and also on the line was the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy. Chasing 152 to win against Australia, New Zealand were reduced to 146 for nine. While wickets fell like ninepins on one end, the Williamson fort stood firm at the other. Mitchell Starc was firing it in and knowing that he couldn’t take a chance with the tail-ender Trent Boult at the other end. He sealed the game with a six. That spoke volumes of Williamson’s calmness. His unbeaten 45 from 42-balls in the crunch situation did the job.

16.  Leadership: For long, Williamson was tipped to be the next New Zealand captain and was McCullum’s deputy. He took charge of the national side after McCullum retired in early 2016. He led New Zealand to the semi-final of the World T20 2016. New Zealand were unbeatable till they lost to England.

17.  Wily off-spin: In early 2014, Williamson who bowls off-spin was called for chucking. However, he was cleared in December after he modified his action. With all the attention in his willow wielding prowess, one aspect remains unnoticed and that’s his bowling. Williamson has 56 international wickets at a reasonable average in mind-30s across the three formats.

18.  Brilliant catcher: New Zealand have historically been a good fielding side and Williamson only adds to that. Again lost under the shadow of his batting is his brilliance in the field. He is one of the better fielders in world cricket. Watch these to believe the claim:

19.  IPL and county cricket: Williamson has played for Gloucestershire and Yorkshire in English county cricket. Ignored in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for long, his recent exploits in the limited-overs circuit couldn’t be ignored as he was picked by Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the eighth edition. He won a tournament with SRH in 2016.

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sportsmarketer , strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)