Kane Williamson scored his 29th Test century on day two of the first Test between Bangladesh and New Zealand, drawing level with Don Bradman and Virat Kohli on the all time list. It’s the continuation of a run of incredible form for the world’s No.1 Test batter.
No other batter in New Zealand’s XI passed 50 on the second day in Sylhet. Williamson racked up 104 runs over almost five hours at the crease, grinding the Bangladesh bowlers into the dirt as their lead was slowly chipped away at. It was his fourth Test innings in Bangladesh and his first since 2013. In all of those four innings he’s passed 50, and in two of them he’s made three figures.
While Williamson’s success in Bangladesh now bookends a decade, his more recent form has been even more impressive. In his five most recent Test innings he’s scored 573 runs against three different teams including three centuries and one double-hundred. The first was his 132 in Wellington against England, which set up the game for New Zealand to take a thrilling win. The double against Sri Lanka was part of a 363-run partnership with Henry Nicholls – the second-highest ever for New Zealand’s third wicket in a Test match.
Over the last three years, Williamson has averaged 79.63 in Test matches and scored eight centuries – including four doubles. That average is significantly higher than anyone else who’s played at least ten Tests in that timeframe, with the next highest being Harry Brook (62.15). Only Joe Root has scored more centuries in the same period (13), having batted in almost triple the number of innings Williamson has.
Kane Williamson in the last three years in Test cricket:
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) November 29, 2023
Recurring injuries since 2020 have meant his appearances in Test whites have been disjointed. However, that clearly hasn’t hampered the consistency with which he’s scored runs. As the ‘Fab Four’ have become more and more disjointed with age, form and scheduling inconsistency, Williamson has characteristically understatedly steadied himself at its helm in Test matches.
Evidence of this can also be found in Williamson’s away record over the last three years. Before the pandemic, Williamson’s status at the top of the game was always somewhat caveated by his record away from home. He averaged less than 40 in every country outside New Zealand except for Australia. However, that’s changed since 2020. He’s averaged 48.45 away from home in that time, as well as a staggering 111.8 at home.
While his stats, both before his run over the last three years and post, make him an indisputable modern Test batting great, it’s worth considering where he sits in the overall picture.
Only Steve Smith, Kumar Sangakkara and Jacques Kallis have a higher batting average and more runs than Williamson does (55.61 & 8,228). As for batters with more centuries and a higher batting average, only those three plus Bradman and Gary Sobers top Williamson.
It’s hard to see what there is left for Williamson to achieve in the Test arena. He’s lifted the World Test Championship trophy as captain and subsequently stepped down from leadership of the side. He’s New Zealand’s all-time leading Test run-scorer and century maker, with a higher average than any of his compatriots. But given the ease at which he’s currently scoring runs, how much higher above the rest he could get by the time he decides to pack international cricket in is a frightening thought.
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