Kane Williamson delivers masterclass on traditional batting in IPL
Kane Williamson has emerged as one of the best batsmen in this IPL.
Kane Williamson played an innovative stroke against Mohit Sharma in the last over of Sunrisers’ innings against Punjab. Off the fourth ball of the over, he moved across his stumps with the intention of playing a scoop shot.
Sharma anticipated Williamson’s move and delivered a slower ball close to the body of the batsman. This is when the SRH batsman displayed his creative side. Seeing the slower ball, the Kiwi delayed his shot, got into a stable position and as the ball approached him, created a little power to still scoop it fine of the fielder at short fine leg.
The key was Williamson's ability to keep his head steady and his body stable in the right position. Also, his skill of watching the ball till the end helped him.
This innovation in stroke play perfectly reflects the success the New Zealand batsman has had in IPL 2017. In three innings so far he has notched up two fifties with a tally of 164 runs. The most astonishing part of his batting is his impressive strike rate of 178.26 which is the second highest among all SRH batsmen this year.
For some, it may be surprising to see that in a batting line-up comprising aggressive players like Warner, Dhawan, Yuvraj, Henriques, Hooda, Cutting and Naman Ojha, it is elegant and technically sound Williamson who has the best strike rate among them.
The fact that Williamson bats at No. 3 make his stats even more amazing. Generally, the responsibility of the number three batsman is to steer the innings and for this, he has to take only calculated risks which in the end, adversely affects his strike rate.
Among the No. 3 batsmen in this IPL, Williamson once again tops the charts and is ahead of Robin Uthappa (strike rate 168.02), Suresh Raina (140.27), Steve Smith (136.17), Nitish Rana (133.80) and AB de Villiers (125.40) by a fair margin.
Williamson reaps rewards for playing traditional brand of cricket
Importantly, Williamson has achieved this staggering feat without playing too many ramp shots or brutal power hits. He has batted with a solid technique, played elegant strokes and scored through proper cricketing shots.
% of runs
% of balls
The above table very well depicts his batting approach. By converting most of his deliveries (59.77%) into singles and doubles, he keeps the scoreboard ticking and prevents the building up of pressure. As these are low-risk shots, it allows the batsman to keep his wicket safe.
To nobody’s surprise, boundaries have yielded him maximum runs (56.08%). But these shots are risky and hence, the right-handed batsman plays them only when really required. (20.64% of his total balls faced).
Thus, Williamson has found the perfect balance between aggression and defensiveness. His tally of dot balls is highly impressive as well. Out of the 92 balls he has faced in this tournament so far, only 18 have been dots, which means his dot-ball percentage is only 19.56.
Calm at the start, aggressive at the end
The New Zealand captain has built his innings smartly by being solid upon arriving at the crease and increasing the scoring rate only after being well-set.
Avg. Dot balls
The above table indicates that in the beginning, Williamson focuses on scoring singles and doubles. But as his innings progresses, he backs himself to find the gaps or to clear the ropes.
Williamson: Playing to his strength
The way he has scored his runs also reflects the technically sound approach he has utilised in this year’s IPL. Unlike modern hitters who look to score all around the ground, the Hyderabad batsman has mostly played in front of the wicket.
By playing in front of the wicket, he has been able to make the most of his strength which is to play with a straight bat. In the same manner, he has utilised his strong zone that is between square leg and long on to score most of his runs.
Behind the wicket
From square leg to long on
From point to long off
% of runs
Williamson’s success in IPL 2017 indicates that batsmen with solid technique and firm knowledge of the basics have better chances of success in the shorter format. As the Kiwi batsman demonstrated against Mohit Sharma in the game against Punjab, innovation is easy for batsmen who stick to the basics.
What is also interesting to note is that among the top 10 run scorers in this tournament, four have an average of above 40 in Tests.