Kane Williamson was just 10 years old when New Zealand won the Champions Trophy in Nairobi in 2000, under the leadership of Stephen Fleming. And it took the side two decades to break the title jinx at an ICC event, with Williamson’s men defeating India by eight wickets to clinch the inaugural World Test Championship.
At the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Wednesday, it was an emotional roller-coaster for the New Zealand team as captain Williamson and seasoned campaigner Ross Taylor guided them to the title and addressing the media after the game, Williamson admitted that it was one of the biggest moments for them.
“Well, obviously it’s the pinnacle, isn’t it! India certainly showed their quality, and for us it was a lot of heart that allowed us to stay in the game for long periods,” Williamson said.
“I think we saw both teams grab momentum at certain points in time, and then to have the sixth day as backup due to weather and see both teams have a real opportunity of a result made for a fantastic game to be a part of. For us, (it is) a very proud moment in our history and a proud moment just as a team really, to stick to what we do well and come away with the win, which is a really great feeling,” the captain added.
Even though the New Zealand pacers restricted India to a rather low score, chasing 139 was quite tricky. However, overcoming a troubled elbow, Williamson hammered a half-century and Taylor remained unbeaten on 47 to guide the side home.
“Yeah, I had that injection, which was definitely helpful, but on our side, batting was very difficult. I think that’s due to the quality that India have in their bowling attack. You never foul turned out on the pitch offered throughout the game. We saw that the scores were relatively low, but it made way for a fantastic game of cricket,” Williamson said.
“A lot of credit to the way our group adjusted, stayed in the battle. I think no one with the bat really got momentum at any point in time. The ball kept going past the outside edge, and there was always opportunities that were coming. A game that ebbed and flowed, and yeah, a special feeling to be on the right side of the result.”
Talking about the 96-run stand with Taylor, Williamson said: “It was nice that we were able to soak up some of the pressure and then sort of score a few together, although it was really difficult to come by. But having an experienced hitter like Ross out there was certainly helpful.
“It is a really special feeling to be there at the end together and tick those runs off, even though it was 130 odd on that surface. You never felt comfortable. It was nice to soak up and put together a partnership.”
The last time New Zealand featured in the final of an ICC event – the 2019 World Cup – it lost to England. So, winning a title in England after a couple of years was indeed a happy feeling for Williamson’s men.
“It is a fantastic feeling. 2019 was a great occasion and a brilliant game of cricket, as well. But obviously a slightly different feeling being on the right side of the result for us, and also a part of a great game of cricket and a great occasion where it was the first official World Test Championship, and this is a really good feeling,” he said, lauding the ICC for having a reserve day.
“I suppose having the backup day schedule was a good initiative, and there’s always a chance of weather (playing a spoilsport) in this country, and we certainly saw plenty of it. But we also saw a surface that was offered throughout the whole game and brought all bowlers into it whenever they had the ball in their hands. Both teams knew that because of that coming into the last day there were three possible results, and we saw that things can happen quickly. Everybody has seen that when you play in this part of the world,” Williamson said.
“Fortunate for us they managed to (get wickets) early on in the day, and it gave us a real opportunity.”