‘The King’ Kane Williamson plays down host of records in 2015
New Zealand’s star batsman notches record-breaking century in win over Sri Lanka
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum called him ‘The King’ but Kane Williamson swatted aside the praise after his record-breaking century capped a five-wicket victory in the second test against Sri Lanka on Monday.
Williamson, who was dismissed for one in the first innings at Seddon Park, provided a match-winning 108 not out in the second as the hosts chased down 189 needed for victory.
“It was an innings of sheer quality from ‘The King’ and the rest of us were able to sit back and watch someone at the top of his game,” McCullum said. “I thought it was an outstanding innings.”
The century, Williamson’s fifth in 2015, was not only a record for New Zealand batsmen in a calendar year but also took the 25-year-old past McCullum’s mark of 1,164 test runs in 2014.
It also moved him top of the International Cricket Council’s world player rankings, the first New Zealand batsman to reach top spot.
McCullum and Williamson are the only New Zealanders to score more than 1,000 test runs in a calendar year, though Williamson, who will end 2015 with 1,172 runs at 90.15, said he did not really focus on milestones.
“It means more when you spend some time in the middle and make a larger contribution to a team performance,” Williamson said after he was named man of the match.
“The wicket wasn’t easy to bat on. It was extremely important we formulated partnerships along the way.
“It wasn’t the biggest chase but it seemed some distance away because both teams came up with sound bowling plans on what was a good wicket.
“Smart plans from both sides meant it was challenging.”
Williamson made a test century on debut against India as a 20-year-old in 2010 and was hailed as having the potential to become New Zealand’s best batsman, though it took him another 11 tests before he passed 100 again.
Until that 102 not out against South Africa, which saved the match at Wellington’s Basin Reserve in 2012, he had passed 50 just four more times.
The right hander’s tenacity, on full display when he took a nasty blow to the groin from a Dale Steyn delivery that cracked his protective box, indicated his growing maturity.
Since the start of 2014 Williamson has become the backbone of McCullum’s batting lineup and last year flirted with the 1,000 run milestone only to fall just short with 929.
Unlike McCullum, who topped 1,000 runs courtesy of a triple century, two double centuries and an innings of 195 in 2014, Williamson has been the model of consistency in 2015.
He started with 242 not out against Sri Lanka in January and added four more centuries. He also scored four half centuries.
His only failures were at Headingley in Leeds with scores of 0 and six, and last month in Adelaide where he made 22 and nine.