ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2019 FINAL
Kane Williamson addressing the press conference prior to the big finale © Getty
If you want to know Kane Williamson as a person, find yourself the clip of the winning moment of the first semifinal between India and New Zealand. The bowlers had just sealed a thrilling win to ensure a consecutive World Cup final appearance and all Williamson had to offer was a smile. Nothing less, nothing more. No over the top celebration – just a gentle smile. And as cliche as it may sound, Williamson isn’t someone who gets too caught up in the end result. He’s the guy who will offer you banal statements at press conferences about following plans, what’s worked for them, how crucial execution is on the field and some others. It’s not for the sake of it but because he truly believes in it.
So, on Saturday (July 13), when Williamson stressed it’s not much about the result of the final of the World Cup, it didn’t come as a surprise. Detachment is key for him. “We’ve sort of spoken a little bit about results and it’s not so much about that, it’s not about willing the perfect performance, you don’t have to be perfect, but it is about how we want to operate as a side and that’s been the case throughout this tournament,” the New Zealand captain offered. “We have tried to adjust to conditions as best we could and we’ve been fairly effective in doing that and we want to be good at that again come tomorrow. We want to focus on the task that is at hand for us to play our best cricket and the endpoint is the endpoint.
“I try not to get too caught up in the results, hopefully not too emotional about just the outcome and maybe look at it with a bit more reason. Where we perhaps could have improved and where some things that were out of our control had an impact on the game and then try and move on from that as quickly as possible.
“So there’s always more to the picture than just the endpoint and that is sort of the focus for us as a team, it’s actually putting our efforts into the moment, how we want to operate as a group and it may well be very different to other sides and how they operate which is fine, but we trust in it and it is important that we do and we look forward to tomorrow treating it with a huge amount of respect because it’s not very often you get the opportunity to be out in a World Cup Final. But very much focussed on what we need to try and achieve.
“I prefer winning than losing. That is probably the best way to say it. It is always any experience that you have is an opportunity to learn and sometimes tough experiences, being on the wrong side of results, can sometimes slap you in the face and give you a glaring lesson and if you ignore that, I don’t think that is a positive thing. So treating both of those, the outcomes with respect and trying to learn from them to be better as a group and as an individual I think is the best part.”
Williamson, though, the good-guy Kane, isn’t someone who is shy of getting involved in banter. England’s high-risk, high-reward cricket have held them is good stead but Williamson feels his side has it in them to contain the blitzkrieg. “A lot of people say that on a number of occasions which is great and I think England rightly so deserve to be favourites. Coming into this tournament from the start, they were favourites and they’ve been playing really good cricket. But whatever dog we are, it’s just important that we focus on the cricket that we want to play and we have seen over the years that anybody can beat anybody regardless of the breed of dog,” he said.
“We are really looking forward to the occasion and, like I say, the endpoint and the result, there’s a lot of time between now and that point. So focussing too much on it I don’t think is a positive thing and the focus for us as a group is what’s in front of us. And we know you go into any match and you have to deal with a number of different things, whether it’s different moments of pressure, whether it’s different moments of momentum and we have to be prepared to deal with all of those again.”
Both England and New Zealand have never won a World Cup. While there’s plenty of chatter about how a World Cup win will change the landscape of cricket in England, Williamson acknowledged a win for his side could well have a massive impact back home as well. “I’d like to think it would have a really positive impact on the sport in our country and having played in the previous one and (having) been in the final there, it still had a massive impact in terms of perhaps inspiring kids to get involved in the game which, at the end of the day, when you move past a number of different parts of the professional game is kind of why you do it.Hopefully there’s a lot of kids out there that have been enjoying the cricket we have been playing and appreciate the hard work that’s gone into being here now.”