Blacks Caps environment helping Williamson

SARAH HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 06/07/2014
Kane Williamson
Photosport
HOT SHOT: Black Caps batsman Kane Williamson scored his seventh test century in the third test against the West Indies in Barbados.

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Undoubted natural talent and the right environment have helped Kane Williamson flourish.

A week or so ago the 23-year-old Black Caps batsman scored his seventh test century and highest test score at a time when his team needed it most.

The 161 not out drew him level with Martin Crowe in the New Zealand record books, both having notched seven test centuries before their 24th birthdays - an auspicious record. It also all but won his team the series in the West Indies.

Williamson, speaking from Dominica before the two Twenty20s, was nervous about being compared with Crowe.

"He's obviously one of the greats of the game, and in terms of being compared to him - people can say whatever they like, I suppose - but he is certainly a great of the game. I know Martin reasonably well and we will probably catch up in the next wee while and talk a bit of cricket."

Williamson said getting to 100 and pushing on was about breaking through a mental barrier.

"You can get out any time when you bat. It's about staying focused and keeping that concentration. In an innings like that there are certain points where you can perhaps lose a little bit of concentration and you have to switch back on."

His previous highest score had been 135 against Sri Lanka in 2012.

"The reason why it feels good is to make the contribution that the team needed, but personally it was nice to get a score like that.

The Blacks Caps environment, though, must take some credit for nurturing a prodigious talent such as Williamson's.

It is the environment that has seen the Black Caps win their last three test series - two at home and one away - their captain, Brendon McCullum, score a rare triple century, and their two attack bowlers, Trent Boult and Tim Southee, march up the world rankings.

Williamson said getting the environment right had been a "big focus".

It is "something that has improved and something we will continue to try and improve all the time," he said.

"There's very good character in the team, which I think breeds different people to stand up and succeed and also really breeds that want and enjoyment for others' successes.

"It's extremely important in the game we play, where you have good days and bad days, but when you are really working collectively there will be a few guys at a time that have good days when others don't have them. That way you are ultimately putting together good performances."

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Ross Taylor and McCullum, in particular, were leading the way.

"They are great. They are world-class performers. Ross showed last year just how good he is and just how consistent he is and Brendon certainly showed the type of innings he is capable of. That triple hundred was the best knock I have ever seen

"I certainly have huge respect for those guys and look up to them. The way they conduct themselves - what a lot of people don't see - is why you respect them a lot more and they are real down-to-earth people and very humble. It's great to have them involved."

Williamson said he was always looking to improve, and was happy at this stage playing at first drop - despite the continued need for a successful opener.

"Cricket, as you know, is one of those games where you have ups and downs. They will happen for as long as you play the game. Trying to improve all the time, I think is an important thing."

- Sunday News

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