Thursday, January 23, 2020 | ePaper

Skillful Kane Williamson plays a bit like Steve Smith: Ricky Ponting

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Back in 2011 when Kane Williamson toured Australia as a youngster looking to make his mark in Test cricket, the legendary Ricky Ponting hardly thought much of him but now likens him to Steve Smith.
For the change in opinion, Ponting credits former rival skipper and Williamson's teammate Brendon McCullum.
"Brendon McCullum said to me then 'this kid is going to be one of the best players in the world'," Ponting told cricket.com.au. "And I thought 'really?'. He was pretty loose outside off stump and was going pretty hard at the ball.
"But when you see him now and what he's developed into, he plays the ball later than anybody, he makes big runs, he makes runs consistently and he's been talked about as a being one of the best players in the world for the last four or five years.
"And he's their captain, so he's a very important player for them."
Since that 2011 series, Williamson has scored almost 6000 Test runs at an average of 55.56 and his mark of 20 centuries in that time is bettered by only Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and David Warner.
And according to Ponting, there are similarities in Williamson's style with Smith - quite a compliment in today's day and age.
"I've seen him turn himself from an ordinary T20 player into a very good T20 player, and that's not an easy thing to do," Ponting says of Williamson.
"That says a lot about the skill that he's got.
"He's a bit like Smithy (in Test cricket); he's very regimented in the way he plays, he plays the ball late, he doesn't get a big stride at the ball. But he's just really hard to get out so I'm looking forward to the battle between him and our quicks."
"I think you've got to bowl to him a little bit like I think how you should bowl to Smithy - on a fourth or fifth stump line and reasonably full," he said.
"He plays the ball really late and drops the ball down to third man a lot, so I think your third slip can be up really close to make him think he can't play that shot in case it carries to slip.
"(You should) play around with the field behind the wicket, just to get him thinking about it. He looks like one of those guys that, like Smithy, once they get into their bubble and they're happy with the way everything's going, you can't unsettle them, and you can't get them out.
"So I think you have to unsettle him first and sometimes that's as easy as just a strange field placement. Put someone in a different spot just to get the batsman thinking 'what are they doing here?'
"If you just get him thinking something different, you can be a step ahead."

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