The New Zealand way is to be humble, not talk big. They are now the No. 2 side in the Test rankings, but it’s difficult to get Kane Williamson to say anything more than “It’s great to have a somewhat settled squad”.
They have one of the strongest pace attacks in the world, which can swing and seam the ball and can be very intimidating for oppositions, particularly in home conditions. They have a batting line-up of two A-listers and several more-than-competent supporting acts, whose runs have contributed enormously to recent wins. They have found a pack of spinners who are competing for spots. They have a standout wicketkeeper and are a brilliant fielding side.
But there’s no chance of getting even one of them to act like a star.
On Monday, Todd Astle and Ross Taylor acknowledged that it was the “Kiwi way” to be humble.
Ross Taylor’s unbeaten 181 against England at Dunedin has been voted the ODI batting performance of 2018
Williamson, too, wouldn’t be drawn to anything remotely close to boasting.
“It’s great to have a somewhat settled squad,” he said. “Experience mixed with an element of youth. It has always been a strength of New Zealand cricket to have guys coming in. But in the last two or three years, the team has been fairly settled.
“Allowing guys to feel like they belong, the core group very much feels like that. There are leaders in the group. It is a helpful thing to have this culture. With the old heads around, you can weather some of the bad days a little bit more and bring out the good ones. It is also important to do the groundwork every day you turn up.”
Williamson said the team’s focus has firmly been on cricket rather than the results or the frills that come with it.
“It is something that you don’t focus on. You focus on the cricket. This year, there’s a little bit more Test cricket than last year,” he said.
“You turn up in every game to play the best cricket. It ends there. In terms of results, rankings and how people view it, aren’t really focusses for us. You can look back fondly at the end of the season, but we have some tough cricket coming up.”
For a change, though, it’s a three-Test series – against Bangladesh, starting in Hamilton on Thursday – and that has pleased Williamson.
“I think we have had a number of two-match Test series, which ended up as one-all. Both sides are saying that it would have been great to have a decider. It is great to be involved in a three-match series,” he said.