3 minutes to read
Kane Williamson. Photo / Photosport
Where does Kane Williamson’s career morph to from here: A face on a banknote? A knight of the realm? A United Nations peace envoy?
Just joshing, but the palpable joy the New Zealand captain
brings fans around the country, and the world, with his cricket is impossible to ignore.
He racked up a further cacophony of milestones on the third day of the second test against Pakistan at Hagley Oval, as part of 238, his fourth double century. Crikey, he was even mobbed by Pakistani opponents wanting to shake his hand and pat his back as he exited. However, that individual roll of honour can be examined elsewhere.
The reality for many fans is how his career trajectory, now across more than a decade at international level, has rejuvenated their love for the game. Like him, many are unaware of, or apathetic to, statistics. Like him, they are more transfixed by the mesmeric thwack of willow on leather and the satisfaction that sound brings. Like him, they appreciate the value of an absorbing contest, be it in white or gaudy pyjamas.
Williamson has taught this faction of fans – including purists – that innings and team victories are constructed by feel rather than painted by numbers.
That’s the mutual gift the captain has bestowed on the cricket-loving public, and presumably the feeling is reciprocated. He knows the game is getting nurtured and grown in the community because of his, and more importantly his team’s, actions. This writer’s guess is he doesn’t wear the number 22 on his back by accident.
Williamson’s success is wedded to his commitment to chart his own course in life and his refusal to bow to peer pressure, which has been intrinsic in helping create a more inclusive Black Caps culture.
There’s the sense of dignity, like at the World Cup final when he somehow managed to grin – albeit entangled with the odd grimace – as he reflected on losing by zero runs. It was the first and so far only time these journalistic eyes have seen a sportsperson given a spontaneous standing ovation by a press pack.
There’s the sense of trust with fans, like partaking in a spot of 29th birthday cake with Sri Lankan devotees in 2019 at a warm-up game north of Colombo as they serenaded him. For he’s a jolly good fellow…
There’s the sense of whimsical humour, too, like when asked whether Twenty20 was his favourite format: “It’s in my top three,” he deadpanned.
The public get Kane Williamson, and it’s about more than his batting, his captaincy or being corralled into a role as some form of corporate, marketing or media pawn. He’s as much a husband, a father and a son as he is a cricketer.
Long may the champion reign, as himself.