In the aftermath of the heart-wrenching World Cup final in 2019, Kane Williamson, the captain of the New Zealand cricket team, found himself grappling with a mix of emotions. The peculiar circumstances of the match, where New Zealand didn’t technically lose but lost the World Cup due to the boundary count rule, left both Williamson and the team in disbelief. The overthrows from Ben Stokes’ bat added to the complexity of emotions, making it a difficult experience to process.
The memory of that World Cup final lingered, creating a deep impact on Williamson, who, despite not outwardly showing his emotions, was profoundly affected. The captain, known for his calm demeanor, was, in reality, numb for an extended period. The team, too, struggled to come to terms with the outcome, having put in their all only to see the trophy slip away.
Kane Williamson’s childhood coach said, “I remember Kane was utterly gutted after that heartbreaking loss at the 2019 WC Final. He was numb for a long time, it was really difficult for him to get back to normal. And this time the entire effort to play the 2023 WC after being injured, the passion, the hard work staggered me. I knew that the 2019 World Cup memory drove him to have one more crack at it in India”.
Having known Williamson since he was 10 years old, there was a profound understanding of the impact the 2019 World Cup had on him. His father, who coached him in his early years, was equally in disbelief, and the team collectively found it challenging to move past the unusual turn of events.
“The overthrows from Ben Stokes’ bat, the boundary count playing a role – it was difficult for him, for us, to process it. I remember it took him a while to get back to himself; I was careful not to talk about it too much but I know he spent a lot of time dwelling about it. He is not the sort to show emotions that way, but I knew deep down that was a hard one to take.
I have known him from when he was 10. More than him, his father, who was the one who coached him early on, was in greater disbelief. The whole team, I would say, struggled a while to handle that game. They had done everything, yet it had slipped away. I believe that memory was what made him make this remarkable comeback for this World Cup,” he added.
Fast forward to the Cricket World Cup 2023, and Kane Williamson’s journey takes a remarkable turn. In what can be considered one of his greatest achievements, he made a swift comeback from a severe injury sustained during the IPL—a recovery that typically takes nine months. Astonishingly, Williamson was back playing for New Zealand in just six months, showcasing an unparalleled commitment to his craft.
Williamson’s coach talks about his recovery
Witnessing his daily grind, which included rigorous rehab exercises, setting up a gym at home, and an unwavering dedication to strengthening his legs and lower body, left those around him in awe. Even when he could barely walk, Williamson was in the nets, batting against a tennis ball without moving his legs, ensuring a gradual and cautious return to the game. His meticulous approach included a 10-day stint at a specialized clinic in England focused on ACL injuries, all aimed at being in peak condition for the World Cup.
“In some ways, I would say this is his greatest achievement – how soon he came back from that nasty injury at the IPL. Normally, it takes at least 9 months. He played for New Zealand in 6 months. I saw his daily grind, and was wowed at his commitment. He would do the rehab exercise at the gym, set a gym at his home in that period, and I am sure he drove his wife Sarah mad.
Every moment he got, he would be there, strengthening his legs and lower body. When he could walk, he came over to the nets and started by batting against a tennis ball without moving his legs. As he couldn’t, in the batting sense. Even later when he was ready, he didn’t want to take any chances. He checked in a clinic in England that specialises in ACL injuries, and spent 10 days so that he could be at his very best for the World Cup. The entire effort, the passion, the hard work staggered me. I knew that the 2019 World Cup memory drove him to have one more crack at it, this time in India,” the coach praised his favorite student.
The 2019 World Cup memory served as a driving force for Williamson’s comeback, and it was evident in his relentless efforts and passion. Despite a semi-final loss to India in the current tournament, his composure during media interactions reflected a cricketing understanding of the defeat, making it easier to accept compared to the inexplicable loss at Lord’s.
India holds a special place in Williamson’s cricketing journey. During his first Test tour to India, he idolized cricketing legends Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, drawing inspiration from their playing styles. His fondness for India and its cricketing culture has been evident throughout his career.
India is a place that he has always liked. I remember his first Test tour as a New Zealand player to India. Growing up, his favourites were Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, and he would say later that he just watched them intently all through that tour. I remember a net session when he came back home, and he played a couple of un-Kane like shots. I said, ‘what’s that?’ And he would say with a shy smile, ‘I saw Sachin try this’. Or ‘I saw Dravid try this’, ” he added.
Kane Williamson’s personality has been a subject of curiosity, with many wondering if there’s a darker side to him. However, those who know him well attest to his respectful, humble, and good-humored nature. Described as the perfect son, Williamson’s character was evident even at the age of 12 when he displayed sensitivity by applauding a fellow teammate after a century, showcasing his team-first mentality.
“The thing with him is that he isn’t scared of failure. He is not worried or won’t let himself be defined by success or failure. If he misses a ball, it’s gone. He stays in the moment. Success doesn’t change him. That ability to stay in the moment is what makes him special. Good technically, very, very good mentally,” Williamson’s coach said.
His work ethic has been a driving force, inspiring teammates to embrace hard work and professionalism. Joining the New Zealand team as a 19-year-old, Williamson’s lengthy net sessions set a standard for dedication. His ability to stay in the moment, regardless of success or failure, makes him not just a good batsman but a remarkable individual.
Even in the face of setbacks, such as a negative newspaper article during his early years, Williamson remained unfazed, emphasizing his ability to stay focused on the present moment. Despite his private nature, he exhibits a thirst for knowledge, seeking insights not only into cricket but also into life itself.
As Kane Williamson’s journey continues, marked by resilience, determination, and grace, his impact on the cricketing world transcends statistics. Whether on or off the field, he remains a true embodiment of sportsmanship, leadership, and the unwavering pursuit of excellence.