Kane Williamson surpassed Martin Crowe's tally of 17 Test hundreds    Getty Images
Kane Williamson surpassed Martin Crowe’s tally of 17 Test hundreds Getty Images

Auckland: Kane Williamson insisted that the late Martin Crowe remained New Zealand‘s best batsman of all time as he grabbed a national-record 18th Test century on a rain-hit day two against England on Friday. Williamson’s 102 provided the backbone of New Zealand’s 229 for four at stumps which left England on the ropes on a wet and gloomy day when rain restricted play to 23.1 overs and only 54 runs were scored.

“I’d still rather be out there,” Williamson said, when asked how he felt breaking the previous New Zealand record of 17 centuries which he shared with Ross Taylor and Crowe. “I’ve never focussed too much on stats, it’s always been about trying to do my best for the team. That’s why today it was frustrating to not still be out there.”

But 27-year-old did take satisfaction from having New Zealand “in a fairly strong position” with a lead of 171 over England and six wickets in hand. Williamson refused to accept comparisons between himself and Crowe, whom he rated as New Zealand’s “best player, batsman certainly, of all time”.

Williamson reached his milestone century with a deft single through the gully off James Anderson, the most successful of the England bowlers with three of the four wickets to fall.

After England’s collapse to be all out for 58, Anderson said there was no post mortem, rather the focus switched to limiting the damage in the field. “As a bowler that’s trying to bowl them out, and as a batsman it’s about catching the catches,” he said. “We have to keep believing. If we don’t have belief there’s no point turning up and putting in the hard yards … we’ve got to believe we can get something out of this game.”

The England bowlers found some movement when they took the new ball one over after the tea break, and within five overs had the wicket of Williamson.

But it was to be their only success with Henry Nicholls preferring not to take risks, although BJ Watling, with three fours to his credit, was willing to hit anything to push the bowlers off their line.

Williamson had rebuilt the New Zealand innings from one for eight in their reply to 206 for four when he was eventually dismissed. He faced 220 deliveries and shared in partnerships of 84 with Tom Latham, 31 with Ross Taylor and 83 with Nicholls.

He was on 100 when the rain swept in for the first time and when play resumed an hour later, after a revised tea break, he added only two more before being trapped in front by Anderson.

His overnight partner Nicholls progressed to 49 not out with Watling on 17 when rain again sent the players indoors for a second time — midway through the second session of the day-night Test.

It never stopped long enough for the game to resume and play was called off four hours later.