Kane Williamson recorded his highest Test score of 251 on the second day of the first Test against West Indies, but said that it hadn’t been easy getting there. The bowlers were “making life really difficult” for him, he said after the day’s play, and “trying to stick to my plans for long periods of time” did the trick for him.
“Certainly, West Indies’ bowlers kept coming back and bowling heavy into the surface and making life really difficult,” Williamson said at a press interaction. “We couldn’t get much momentum with the bat, but we managed to fight our way through some of those tough periods, which was really pleasing. I suppose when you look at the gap between Test cricket that we’ve had, that’s a nice thing.”
The gap Williamson referred to was as huge as nine months. New Zealand’s last Test, against India in Christchurch, had ended on March 2 before Covid-19 ensured a long hiatus. That, plus shifting from T20s – he was last in action for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL – to Tests, and the fact that the West Indies bowlers got decent movement couldn’t have been easy to deal with. But the New Zealand captain made it work.
“I suppose when it’s looking like that [green pitch], you are going to expect some movement – and there was [movement] – and you can’t control the surface,” Williamson said. “For me, it was just trying to stick to my plans for long periods of time and hope that when you get good balls, you might miss them or they might perhaps go down rather than to the slips.
“I think that was sort of the large part of that [innings] and towards the end of my innings, [I was] playing and missing a little bit. There was a little bit [of movement] there, but the surface was certainly getting a bit better [to bat on] coming into today. But I was just trying to stay disciplined and stick to my plan for as long as I could.”
One of the particularly impressive aspects of Williamson’s innings was how well he executed the pull shot, which he put down to dealing well with “steep bounce and a really thick layer of grass [on the pitch]”.
“And also with the movement that was there, I still felt that the ball that brings the pads, the stumps and the slip cordon [into play] is still perhaps the most dangerous,” he said. “So [I was] trying to negate that a little bit. It was nice to build partnerships throughout, especially on a surface like that [where] it was quite difficult to start because of the steep nature of the bounce and with the little bit of movement that was there.”
The job with the bat has been done, with 519 for 7 declared on the board, and now it’s over to the bowlers from New Zealand’s point of view. By the end of the second day, West Indies had reached 49 without loss with Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell in the middle.
“The heavy roller went on it and flattened the grass a little bit more, but I think there’s still enough bounce there and swing as well if we can make sure we build pressure,” Williamson said. “I think there’s enough there, but we know West Indies have come off some Test cricket and they’ve got some number of experienced batters in their side. So it’s not going to easy, but it’s important we focus on what we can control and make sure we bring a lot of energy coming into tomorrow.”