He whipped the ball into the gap between midwicket and mid-on to raise his fourth double hundred in Tests. He gently raised his bat a few times in acknowledgement to the applauding Christchurch crowd but did not even take his helmet off. For Kane Stuart Williamson, it was just another typical day at the office. But for the spectators, it was nearly a spiritual experience to see him bat.
Very recently he dethroned Steven Smith from the top spot and became the leading Test batsman in the ICC rankings, with Smith slipping at three and Virat Kohli remaining at two. If you have the slightest idea about his personality, you can predict how he would react to this. "Humbling and surprising," that's what he said.
But is Williamson's rise to prominence really surprising?
Steven Smith's last Test century came more than a year ago, in September 2019 to be precise. Since then, Virat Kohli scored only one hundred in Tests and became unusually quiet after that. Kohli ended 2020 without a single international hundred. Smith too has been in poor form, not even registering a double-figure score in four innings against India in the ongoing series.
When your heroes fall, you cannot help looking beyond. That's when Kane Williamson, who all these years piled up runs almost under the radar, suddenly took the centre stage. Since Smith's last Test hundred, Williamson notched up four centuries and converted two of them into double hundreds.
Williamson has been a phenomenal run-getter since his debut in 2010. He didn't enjoy a particularly great run of form in 2011 and 2012, his formative years when he averaged 27 and 32 respectively. If you keep these two years aside, Williamson's averaged at least 40 in every year he played. He averages over 40 against every opponent barring India in Tests.
However, one thing that doesn't speak in favour of Williamson is his average in England, Sri Lanka and South Africa. In England, the average is decent at 30, but by no means great by his standard. He averages 26 and 21 in Sri Lanka and South Africa respectively which leaves a question mark.
But let's not forget that he played no more than four Tests in these countries and he averages 45 outside New Zealand which is decent by any standard. And his average away from home is higher than that of even Kohli.
En route to his superlative 238 against New Zealand in the ongoing Test match, he sneaked past Virat Kohli in terms of batting average and Steven Smith now is the only active player averaging more than him (minimum 30 innings).
Based on recent form, Williamson is without any doubt the best batsman right now in Test cricket. Since 2018, no batsman who played at least 30 Test innings averages more than Williamson who notched up 1901 runs in 31 innings at a staggering average of 67. Kohli and Smith both average 52 during this period and that suggests Williamson's sheer dominance.
Williamson has led New Zealand well and led from the front. They are on the cusp of becoming the leading Test team in ICC rankings for the first time ever in their history. Captaincy seems to have made him a better batsman. Among current captains in Tests, Williamson averages higher than anyone (62.81) while leading the side.
Performances have little value when they don't come at winning cause. Kane Williamson bosses this aspect of the game as well and since 2018, he is the highest run-getter in Tests in winning cause. In 17 innings, he scored 1323 runs at a jaw-dropping average of 82.68. Smith and Kohli average 67 and 65 respectively at winning cause during this period.
Of late, Williamson has shown his ability to play really long innings and once he got hundreds, he made sure he stayed long. Since 2018, Indian batsmen scored four double hundreds and Australian batsmen three. And Kane Williamson alone scored three double centuries.
With Virat Kohli out on paternity leave, Steven Smith out of sorts, even the sensational Babar Azam injured, the world finally took notice of this generational talent. Netizens have started going gaga over his magnificent performance.
But the forever calm and serene Williamson is away from all these noises. You cannot even tag Williamson on Twitter while appreciating him. Because he doesn't even have a Twitter account of his own.
It was an unforgettable summer for Kane Williamson. He scored two double hundreds, became the number one Test batsman and became a father. It's a shame that the summer has come to an end and the world has to wait for at least seven months to see the best batsman on current form in whites.