@Aadya_Wisden 3 minute read
Kane Williamson scrambled his way to a run-a-ball 23 in the first Super 12 match of the 2022 T20 World Cup between New Zealand and Australia, raising eyebrows over his sluggish approach after a flying start by the Kiwis.
Williamson’s strike rate has been a topic of contention of late: his strike rate in 21 T20s this year stands at 104.97. His strike rate in his last five T20I innings read: 100, 155.26, 100, 103.44 and 103.33. Among all New Zealand batters who have faced at least five balls in 2022, Williamson’s T20I strike rate of 118.84 is the worst.
The sluggishness was evident in the Sydney fixture when Williamson walked in in the fifth over. New Zealand had raced to 56 in 4.1 overs, with Finn Allen doing the bulk of the damage, blasting 42 off 16. Allen’s departure and Williamson’s entry slowed things down: New Zealand managed just nine runs off the remaining ten powerplay deliveries. It was still their highest powerplay score (65-1) in a T20 World Cup match.
Williamson remained in the middle until the end of the 13th over – when he arrived, New Zealand were going at just under 14 runs an over. When he was dismissed, the run rate stood at 9.6. Williamson played out 23 balls [19 per cent of NZ’s innings] for as many runs, with just one four and six. Six of those 23 deliveries were dots.
He was dismissed by Adam Zampa off the final delivery of the 13th over, reviewing a seemingly adjacent lbw decision that was confirmed by the third umpire.
In the last 12 month, Kane Williamson's batting average in the middle overs (7-15) in T20Is is 57 but strike-rate is only 116. He puts a heavy price on his wicket. A high-risk strategy cos if you or others fails to accelerate at the end, your team can be 10-20 runs short. #AusvNZ
— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) October 22, 2022
As pointed out by statistician Mazher Arshad, Williamson’s strategy over the last year has been to stay around and consolidate in the middle overs, while operating at a relatively low strike rate. Since the start of 2021, his average in the middle overs (7-15) is 44.62, which rises to 57 in the last 12 months. The approach is probably to ensure New Zealand have more cushion going into the death overs: James Neesham, Mark Chapman and Mitchell Santner can all hit the ball hard, but can’t always be depended to see them through if they lose wickets early. Not every day would New Zealand blast off to 65 runs in the powerplay. Williamson’s presence is vital in positions like the T20 World Cup final in Dubai last year when his 85 off 48 held a stuttering New Zealand innings together.
However, the current version of Williamson wouldn’t be able to help the Kiwis as much. On Saturday, Conway carried his bat for a 58-ball 92, while Neesham’s late burst propelled New Zealand to 200. Despite Williamson’s run-a-ball, the Kiwis had a great batting day. On a day Allen doesn’t fire the way he did, or Conway doesn’t big, Williamson’s approach might dig him out of the hole. But when all’s going well, Williamson could end up doing more harm than good. It’s probably on New Zealand to be a little more flexible with their plans and order based on the situation.
After Williamson’s run-a-ball 23, there were plenty of reactions, as expected, questioning his approach:
Technically Williamson (3.5-0-23-1) has been Australia's most successful bowler of the day. https://t.co/jcDiVPGK98
— Abhishek Mukherjee (@ovshake42) October 22, 2022
Continue to be baffled by Kane Williamson in T20s. What does he offer?
— Shane Ireland (@_ShaneIreland) October 22, 2022
If I was Australia, I’d have rescinded that appeal. Williamson getting out was the best thing that could’ve happened to New Zealand, the way he was batting (as much as it pains me to say). #AUSvNZ #T20WorldCup
— Ismail Mulla (@IsmailMulla) October 22, 2022
Surely it was in NZ's interests for Williamson to be dismissed then regardless – lose the anchor and let the finishers have a proper crack. #T20WorldCup
— Adam Collins (@collinsadam) October 22, 2022
The partnership between Allen & Conway brought 56 runs off 25 balls (RR 13.44); Conway & Williamson's partnership scored 69 runs off 53 balls (RR 7.80). The start was so good that NZ are still in a great position but that partnership might hurt them in two hours. #T20WorldCup
— Freddie Wilde (@fwildecricket) October 22, 2022