Williamson should miss Twenty20s

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 14:22 16/02/2012

Kane WilliamsonIn a week when Kane Williamson hit 20 from just five balls to win New Zealand a Twenty20 international, this next comment will probably be labelled as ridiculous by many – however, here goes.

For me Williamson would be better off being left out of the Twenty20 series against South Africa starting on Friday night in Wellington, and at least the first one-day international as well.

While the Twenty20 fixtures and one-day internationals against South Africa are likely to be fun, intense, hopefully tight, and draw in big crowds, the official mark of New Zealand's season will be given out in relation to how the Black Caps fare in the three tests against South Africa next month.

International credentials are dished out from what countries do in the test game, despite all the glitz and glamour of the shortened formats.

The majority of countries' goals do, or at least should, centre on being the best test-playing nation they can be.

This is what leads me to thinking that just maybe the selectors should have resisted throwing the young and talented Williamson into the upcoming three Twenty20 games against South Africa.

Instead for the betterment of our test chances against South Africa Williamson would be better off fine tuning his batting during the next fortnight in four-day cricket with Northern Districts.

Marathon batting, as I like to call it in the four and five-day game, requires a different mindset and skillset than the 100m dash that is Twenty20 cricket.

Getting the opportunity to bat session after session and rack up big hundreds for Northern Districts would set a platform for Williamson heading into the test series.

Marathon batting is Williamson's key strength and one that will need to be untilised when New Zealand tries to roll the No 2 ranked test-playing nation next month.

I have done some calculations – if Williamson was left out of the three Twenty20s against South Africa and the first of the three one-day internationals, then he could get in two four-day fixtures for Northern Districts during the next fortnight.

It would be an opportunity to bat for a day rather than maybe 10, 20 or 30 balls at a time in a Twenty20 international.

It is hard to compare New Zealand cricket to that of our Australian neighbours given the gulf in playing depth, but you do have to look at their successful blueprint for ways we could do better.

Test cricket is very much where Australia's focus lies and their selections highlight that. They resist throwing their key test batters into the Twenty20 format.

In a recent Australia-India Twenty20 series Australia used just two players from their test team which beat India four-nil.

New Zealand does not have the batting depth to afford such a luxury but in isolated cases like Williamson, and Dean Brownlie, it could be warranted to reduce the amount of Twenty20 cricket they play in a quest to enhance their test game.

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