Former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori has hailed Kane Williamson as New Zealand’s greatest-ever one-day player after his match-winning World Cup century against South Africa.
Williamson made an unbeaten 106 to guide the Kiwis to a nervy four-wicket win with three balls to spare at Edgbaston on Wednesday as they maintained their unbeaten record.
With the Black Caps needing seven runs to win in the rain-hit 49-over-a-side game, Williamson smashed paceman Andile Phehlukwayo for six to bring up his 12th ODI century and hit the next ball for four.
“Kane Williamson has to be New Zealand’s greatest ODI player of all time -- and innings like that against South Africa tell you exactly why,” Vettori wrote in his column for the International Cricket Council.
“He’s already there now and by the end of his career his record will far exceed anything we’ve had in the past or present, he really is that good.”
New Zealand were in trouble at 137 for five in the 33rd over before Colin de Grandhomme (60) joined skipper Williamson at the crease.
The pair put on 91 runs for the sixth wicket as Williamson paced his innings to perfection, hitting nine fours and a six in his 138-ball knock.
“Kane has done so much in such a short period, whether a captain or not, he’s been exceptional and he’s an absolute joy to watch,” said Vettori. He plays all the shots, he knows how to manipulate the strike and he’s always going to run hard.
“What differentiates him from a lot of batsmen in this day and age is his sole focus is winning the game and he tailors his batting towards that.”
Williamson, who made his ODI debut against India in 2010, averages an impressive 47.36 in 143 matches.
“The wicket was tricky, the South African bowling was very good and they took the pace off the ball well, it was a tough time to bat.
“But the way he understood that situation and got his team across the line was exceptional, it’s what makes him one of the greatest in the world now and by the end of his career he’ll be up there with some of the greats of all time.”
Vettori also reserved praise for those playing alongside Williamson.
“Then you have Ross Taylor and you just want to sit down and watch, for New Zealand to have both of those together at a World Cup is pretty amazing. You can’t underestimate Colin de Grandhomme’s influence in this win as well – he came out and was fluent and had the best strike rate of anyone in the match.
“To come out there in a pressure situation and play your natural game takes a lot of guts. He took the pressure off Kane and allowed him to rotate the strike – that wicket was always going to be tough to start on but these two really nullified that and made it easier for guys around them.
“They looked unflappable. There were overs where you’d have dots and a couple of runs but they never worried at all.”