New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson dethroned Virat Kohli and Steve Smith to become the new world number one Test batsman in world cricket after his Man-of-the-Match performance against Pakistan in the Boxing Day Test in December.
Williamson was in incredible form in 2020, registering three tons in three Test matches, including his highest individual score of 251 against West Indies.
Kane Williamson's home Test summer:— ICC (@ICC) January 6, 2021
🇳🇿 Four innings
🏏 639 runs @ 159.75
💯 Two double centuries, one century
💥 Made his new highest score in Tests – 251
🔝 Captained New Zealand to No.1 in the @MRFWorldwide Test Team Rankings and claimed the No.1 batting spot
Incredible! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/SMyC4vQLm3
To put things into perspective, Williamson’s Test average in 2020 was a staggering 105.14 while Kohli and Smith averaged 19.33 and 18.25 respectively. The New Zealand captain accumulated 736 runs in seven innings while Kohli amassed 116 runs in six innings. On the other hand, Smith accumulated just 73 runs in five innings.
The former Australian skipper, however, ended his run-drought after he slammed his 27th Test ton in the first innings of the third Test against India and followed it up with a half-century later on in 2021.
Smith equalled Kohli's tally of 27 Test centuries and also surpassed the Indian skipper in terms of career Test runs. Kohli has scored 7,318 runs from 147 innings at an average of 53.41.
Interestingly, the Indian cricket team captain had not scored a single century in any format in 2020 and had endured a miserable year according to his usual standards.
On the other hand, Williamson smashed his 24th Test hundred in the recently concluded Test against Pakistan, helping the Kiwis sweep the two-match series. The 30-year-old’s phenomenal success in the last couple of months has propelled New Zealand to reach the top spot in the ICC Test rankings for the first time in their history.
The Kane Williamson-led side now has 118 points and is leading the charts. Australia are at the second spot with 116 points, followed by India (114), England (106) and South Africa (96).
With impeccable results against West Indies and Pakistan, both of whom were defeated in successive Tests by an innings each, New Zealand have proven they are now the most in-form Test team in world cricket.
In the ongoing inaugural World Test Championship, New Zealand currently sit third in the points table with 0.700 percentage points won, the factor that determines the final placings rather than total points won, following a change to the points system owing to the global pandemic disruption.
Williamson vs Kohli vs Smith stats at home
Williamson has amassed 3662 runs from 66 innings at a staggering average of 64.2 in home Tests. His highest score of 251 too came in his own backyard against West Indies recently. On the other hand, Kohli has accumulated a total of 3558 runs from 60 innings at an incredible average of 68.4. His best individual score of 254* against South Africa came in a home series in 2019. Meanwhile, Smith has the best average of these three at home, scoring 3566 runs in 63 innings at an average of 68.58.
At home, Williamson has 13 centuries to his name, two more than his away centuries. Similar to Williamson, Kohli has 13 centuries at home, which is one less than his 14 away centuries. On the other hand, Smith has 14 hundreds in Australia while he has 13 tons away from home.
Williamson vs Kohli vs Smith stats away from home
The greatness of a cricketer is judged by how well he performs in alien conditions. New Zealand captain Kane Williamson averages 45.58 away from home, accumulating 3327 runs in 78 innings. On the other hand, Kohli has accumulated 3760 runs in 87 innings at an average of 44.24. Former Australia skipper Smith averages 57.10, the best out of the three away from home, registering 3883 runs in 74 innings.
Black Caps batting coach Craig McMillan rates Williamson the best among the trio, pointing out that the conditions in New Zealand are way different than in India and Australia, and this is where the Kiwi captain has flourished.
“Between Kohli, Smith, and Kane they ebb and flow in terms of the numbers they punch out. In India, you get really good batting conditions for the first part of the Test match and the same in Australia, there’s a lot of runs scored there. In New Zealand, it’s the toughest batting conditions of those three countries because our pitches are green and do so much.
“That’s why I have Kane with his nose in front at the top, because day in, day out he’s having to do it in bowler-friendly conditions and very rarely do you get a good, flat batting deck that perhaps some of those other teams get to play on in their home countries.”
While Kane Williamson might not be as flamboyant as Virat Kohli and Steve Smith, he is equally effective as the other two and his unique quality of staying calm under pressure stands him apart. The 30-year-old is one of the most humble and most loved players across the globe.
The stats clearly indicate that Kane Williamson is one of the modern-day greats and he is currently the best Test batsman in world cricket at the moment.