Kane Williamson is confident that New Zealand’s recent problems in T20 won’t damage their confidence in the one-day game as they prepare for the marquee white-ball section of the season.
Until the second T20I against Pakistan at Eden Park, New Zealand’s summer had gone without a blemish but since then they have won once in seven outings. However, their ODI record stands at eight wins on the bounce ahead of the Seddon Park opener against England.
“I think we park the T20 for now and focus on a lot of the good one-day cricket we’ve been playing,” Williamson said. “The plans are fairly different so it’s important we go back to that. We know it’s a tough challenge against England.
“We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. There’s been some good one-day cricket played by our group but we do know we’ll have to adapt to the opposition and the surfaces which have been different throughout each venue.”
Those surfaces will include a used pitch for the opening match, the same that was played on for the T20 last weekend, which is expected to again offer purchase for the spinners. Williamson is ready for England’s “very aggressive” approach with the bat, but still sees a place for the more nuanced side of one-day accumulation.
In the T20s it felt as though there was too much on the shoulders of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro, but the longer format brings the traditional skills of Williamson and Ross Taylor back to the fore and makes a very strong-looking top four. Williamson was able to practice leaving the ball in the nets on Saturday and you sensed he was itching to be able to build an innings again.
“I think T20 cricket keeps pushing the boundaries of cricket, whether into the one-day game or even the Test game – you see people being a lot more positive,” he said. “But at the same time, that doesn’t completely change it – because you do get on surfaces that require a lot more batsmanship, perhaps more defence for a period of time, to get through some of those tougher moments.
“T20 is definitely having an influence, but it’s important that all of us don’t get too carried away with it at times when the conditions might dictate something else.”
Williamson was not getting wrapped up in Ben Stokes’ comeback – for all that Stokes has looked impressive in the nets, a player returning after such a long break could actually work in New Zealand’s favour at the start of the series – although acknowledged the enviable all-round depth England have.
“That comes back to the cricket we want to play, our plans, our styles,” he said. “There are a number of quality matchwinning players in the English side who have been playing good cricket. It’s tough to focus on one name.”
The main question marks around the New Zealand side heading into this series are the middle order and whether the five-six combination of Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls packs quite enough of a punch, notwithstanding Williamson’s belief that batting doesn’t always have to be gung-ho.
Latham as wicketkeeper in the top five adds the balance that New Zealand want, but his one-day runs have dried up again this summer as they did last season. Nicholls is making a decent fist of the finisher’s role at No. 6 with three half-centuries in eight matches this season, but when serious lower-order hitting is needed it falls to Colin de Grandhomme who has a strike-rate of 112 from his 11 ODI innings.
Williamson, though, remained confident in his side to find another level after the limited competition provided by West Indies and Pakistan in the 50-over game.
“The way they’ve been adapting to conditions, which have changed a lot, has been a real strength,” he said. “So it’s important we look to do that again, but at the same time we want to be fluid in how we operate in terms of guys perhaps being able to adjust to slightly different roles when that’s required.”