Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Kane Williamson has time to develop leadership skills

Kane Williamson was appointed New Zealand’s captain in all formats of the game following the retirement of Brendon McCullum. 

McCullum ended his career following the Black Caps’ defeat to Australia in February, bringing an end to a successful 14-year tenure in the game.

The 34-year-old was named New Zealand’s captain in 2012 after Ross Taylor opted to stand down as he struggled to cope with the duties.

McCullum took to captaincy like a duck to water, although his side lost two of their opening three series under his leadership against South Africa and England.

Following their series loss in England, the Black Caps went on a seven-series unbeaten run, claiming wins over the West Indies, India and Sri Lanka. His decision-making in the field was outstanding, which on numerous occasions would produce wickets out of nowhere.

McCullum led by example with the bat, raising the level of his game by scoring six of his 12 hundreds with the captaincy, including a remarkable triple-century against India.

He made the decision to retire following his side’s defeat at the hands of Australia on home soil, although he was to sign off in style in his final match by scoring the fastest Test century in history.

He will now have to find a new hobby to display his dominance to fill the void and, as one of the stars of the sport he will have a range of options. Punditry, coaching or life away from the game are all options. But he could still get his cricket fill with console games or online games, such as Cricket Stars and other Kiwi pokies.

His shoes have been filled by one of the stars of the modern game in Williamson. The 25-year-old has the unenviable task of replacing a hugely successful player and captain.

Williamson has become one of the leading batsmen in world cricket and was named Wisden almanack's leading cricketer of the year in 2015, matching the promise he displayed on debut against India when he made a century.

Since 2010 he has scored 13 Test centuries and 19 fifties, leaving him just four hundreds behind Martin Crowe, who holds the New Zealand’s record for most centuries.

He has all the credentials in the longest form of the game to be a solid leader for his country, and has already shown a great deal of promise in limited overs cricket.

Williamson made several good decisions throughout his side’s campaign in the ICC World Twenty20, guiding the team into the semi-finals following their four-straight wins in the group stage.

His bowling changes always appear to work with great success and his use of spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi choked their opposition leading to wickets for the impressive duo.

Their campaign ended in disappointment with their loss to England, but the Black Caps will have been pleased with how they coped for the first time without McCullum’s presence.

Williamson now has four months to hone his skills before his first Test match as captain against South Africa.

As England proved in their win over South Africa, AB de Villiers’s men have vulnerabilities and could be exposed by New Zealand’s potent attack.

However, they still have plenty of talent in their squad so it will be a good chance for Williamson to cut his teeth as he begins his leadership journey.

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