Former Black Caps coach Mike Hesson has called for Kane Williamson to switch to the No 4 spot in T20s – a move which could rejuvenate his batting.
Williamson’s slow scoring rate and whether he still commanded a place in New Zealand’s top T20 XI generated plenty of debate during the recent T20 World Cup.
Speaking on Sky Sport Presents: Smith and Hesson, Williamson’s former mentor believed he needed to relinquish his No 3 berth and change his role in the side, batting outside the power play (first six overs).
Hesson was in favor of promoting the aggressive Glenn Phillips to No 3 and utilizing Williamson at four or have him slide down the order, depending on the match situation.
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“If Kane is to continue playing T20 cricket for New Zealand and we know he’s a fine cricketer in all three formats, we need to find a role for him,” Hesson said.
“We can’t have Devon [Conway] and Kane batting together in the power play for five overs and expect us to be on 50, we just can’t. That’s not the role they play.”
Hesson said Williamson’s strike rate in the power play had been less than 100 over the last two years and it was holding New Zealand back at the top.
At the T20 World Cup, Williamson’s overall strike rate for the tournament was 116.33 with Conway almost identical at 116.93.
Hesson supported shifting Williamson from three to four, where he thrived in the Indian Premier League for his former Sunrisers Hyderabad side in 2018.
Williamson amassed 317 runs from 11 innings that season at a strike rate of 133, scoring three half-centuries.
He believed the Black Caps had been “repeat offenders” keeping Williamson at three in T20s and expecting him to drastically change the way he batted in the power play.
“It could well free Kane up to go ‘I actually love T20 cricket. I love playing, but hey I’m actually going to be reinvigorated by having a new role’.”
Both Hesson and former New Zealand wicketkeeper-turned-commentator, Ian Smith argued it was unrealistic for Williamson to keep captaining the Black Caps in all three forms.
Players captaining sides in every form at the elite level had become rare because it was so draining in a packed cricket schedule.
Smith touched on the example of England’s Kiwi-born star Ben Stokes, who remained the side’s test skipper, but wasn’t burdened by that responsibility in T20s.
Stokes had embraced his role as a closer with the bat for England, who could make an impact in the middle overs, and said Williamson could serve similarly for New Zealand.
“That’s the kind of role I think Kane Williamson could do for us. I really do and use his background, and his nous and his leadership and all those years of experience to sum up situations a little bit deeper in the innings and that’s not saying he’s a bad player,” Smith said.
“It’s just saying we’re changing things. We’re having a go, we’re changing things.”
Hesson added that Williamson would always be a leader in the Black Caps’ environment and didn’t need the captaincy tag to justify it in T20s.
“I might choose to do that in both white ball forms. I might choose to do just T20s, who knows, but I think that conversation needs to be had with him.
“I know it has for many years. We remember talking about it when I was still there a number of years back. It’s not a new question, but it’s become apparent in the world you can’t do it and you can’t do it justice [captaining all three forms].”