Williamson finally gets the test blueprint
OPINION: I've written this before but I think it is worth dredging up again – Kane Williamson needs to play less limited-overs cricket and concentrate more on the longer format if New Zealand are to get serious about becoming the best test-playing nation it can be.
What has unfolded in the past month or so has only strengthened my belief that we are trying to squeeze too much out of Williamson.
By spreading his batting ability across all the formats – Twenty20, one-day, and tests – we are struggling to get the best of this talented kid.
Williamson is good enough to make the Twenty20, one-day and test teams, no questions asked, but I ask: is lining Williamson up in every game giving New Zealand the best chance to be a strong test nation – the format that every cricketing country is judged on.
During the early part of the test series against South Africa, Williamson was out of sorts and my belief is that it was a hangover from playing so much limited-overs cricket in the leadup to such an important series against the world's No2 test playing nation.
Williamson's key problem was he was pushing at too many balls outside off stump. He was defending balls he had no need to play at.
There is a side-effect from playing so much limited-overs cricket where there is an instinct in batsmen to play at every ball sent down at them.
The key in limited-overs cricket is to try to score off every ball possible and this is where the instinct is developed for batsmen to throw their hands at almost every ball.
As the test series went on, Williamson got back into the test mindset where he simply waited for a bad ball to come before he thought about scoring.
I would suggest it wasn't a coincidence that Williamson looked at his best when the thought of scoring runs was secondary against South Africa in Wellington on Tuesday.
He went out to bat when runs were not an issue but time was like gold.
In a situation where it is about batting time it often brings out the best in players and in Williamson's case it was evident.
Players of his ability generally hit the poor ball for four when it is on offer no matter what the game situation.
So even when the mission is to bat time runs do come and big scores can be produced.
What happens when the focus is on time is that subconsciously a player losses the temptation to produce rash and high risk shots.
Many cricketing pundits made fun of Mark Richardson when he went about his business as a test opener for New Zealand.
His approach was deemed too slow and too negative by some but the reality is what would we give now for a player like him at the top of our order?
His blueprint to test batting was simple: he left almost everything outside off stump and made the bowlers come to him.
He made them bowl straight and then proceeded to pick them off through the on-side.
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