@Yas_Wisden 2 minute read
Sitting at 10th place in Wisden’s Test innings of the year list – part of the 2020 in Review series – is Kane Williamson’s 251 against West Indies at Hamilton.
Kane Williamson 251 (412)
New Zealand v West Indies
Seddon Park, Hamilton
Kane Williamson begins 2021 as the No.1-ranked Test batsman in the world and one unbeaten Test away from leading New Zealand to the summit of the world rankings for the first time in their history.
Often lazily described as ‘underrated’, in 2020 Williamson showed why his ascent to the top of the Test batting rankings is no less than he deserves. In the four Tests he played in the calendar year, he contributed match-winning innings in three of them; we are witnessing a modern-day batting great at the apex of his powers.
At start of the year at Wellington against India, Williamson hit the highest score of a low-scoring series; in his final outing of 2020, Williamson grinded his way to a century against a stubborn Pakistan attack on a slow surface at Mount Maunganui. Two classic Williamson performances, sure, but it was his 251 against West Indies at Hamilton that best displayed the extraordinary range of his talent.
Sent in on a jarringly green wicket that attracted derision on social media, Williamson strolled out to bat after four overs when debutant Will Young was pinned in front after four overs. While the pitch didn’t quite live up to its billing, it was by no means easy going. Alongside Tom Latham, Williamson blunted West Indies’ quartet of quicks to get through to lunch unscathed. Run-scoring became progressively easier through the day and Williamson ended it unbeaten, three runs short of a 22nd Test century.
Day two followed a similar pattern in that the opening session – against the second new ball – was the most difficult for batting. After Ross Taylor’s dismissal early on the second morning, it became apparent that Williamson was on a completely different level to his teammates that day.
Increasingly willing to take the attack to the West Indian bowlers, Williamson showed particular disdain towards the spin of Roston Chase, never allowing the off-spinning all-rounder to settle. At one point on the second afternoon – shortly after Williamson reached his double-century – the New Zealand skipper had rattled off 107 runs on day two; none of his teammates had scored more than 14.
With a healthy first-innings score already secured and a double century in the bank, Williamson reached another level. In one particularly thrilling four-ball burst, Williamson struck Kemar Roach for a pair of consecutive fours, then got down on one knee to deposit Roach over the mid-wicket boundary for six before nicking behind off a no-ball.
He eventually fell for 251 – his career-best score – a ball after pulling Alzarri Joseph for six, looking to repeat the trick. As well as the range of Williamson’s knock it was his near total control that stood out. Hardly troubled before he reached 200, Williamson made batting look easy on a spicy surface that he described after the game as “really challenging technically and mentally” against a well-rounded West Indies pace attack.