Southampton: New Zealand captain Kane Williamson saluted the commitment of his star-shorn side as he savoured the “special feeling” of winning the inaugural World Test Championship mace by beating India, relying on “bits and pieces to stay in games and be competitive”.
With the World Test Championships triumph, the “nice guys” of world cricket showed that they don’t always finish last. The win over mighty India has also made up for the heartbreak of successive ODI World Cup final losses in 2015 and 2019.
Wiliamson termed their final win over India as the “pinnacle” but stopped short of calling it the country’s biggest achievement in the game.
“I’ve been part of (New Zealand cricket) for a short while, it’s a very special feeling, the first time in our history we’ve come away with a world title,” Williamson said in post-match press conference on Wednesday.
“We’ve had 22 players over the last two years, and they’ve all played their part and the support staff and the guys who played this match, it’s a special achievement to be savoured.
“I think for us, we know we don’t always have the stars, and we use our bits and pieces to stay in games and be competitive,” added the likeable captain in the post-match presentation.
He said it is nice to be finally end up on the right side of the result.
“Well, obviously it’s the pinnacle, isn’t it, really, being involved in the final. Like I said, a formidable side in India. 2019 was a great occasion and a brilliant game of cricket, as well.
“But obviously a slightly different feeling being on the right side of the result for us,” he said minutes later in the media interaction.
On the “nice guys” tag given to them, he said: “People can comment on that or tag us how they’d like…”
“But it’s not about being anything other than authentic to us as a group and the sort of cricket that we want to play and the behaviours that is important to us day in, day out.”
The New Zealand cricketers are arguably the most likeable cricketers around the world, including India, and Williamson hoped the outcome of the final won’t change that.
“It’s nice that maybe we’re India’s second favourite team. I hope that still remains the case.
“It was a great game of cricket played in a fantastic spirit and very, very competitive and on a surface that was offering something throughout and every team had an opportunity to win, lose and draw on the last day.”
It was just the second major international trophy won by New Zealand in their history, following their ICC Knock Out triumph back in 2000, leaving the skipper ecstatic.
“For us a very proud moment in our history and a proud moment just as a team really, to stick to what we do well and come away with the win, which is a really great feeling.”
With India bowled out for 170 and the sun shining over the Rose Bowl on the sixth reserve day, New Zealand needed 139 runs in 53 overs to win the WTC title.
The experience of Williamson (52 not out) and Ross Taylor (47 not out) saw them overhaul the target with eight wickets to spare.
“Even though it was 130-odd on that surface, but having an experienced hitter like Ross out there was certainly helpful.
“A really special feeling to be there at the end together and tick those runs off, even though it was 130 odd on that surface. You never felt comfortable. It was nice to soak up some of that pressure and put together a partnership.”
Indian skipper Virat Kohli has called for a three-match Test series to decide future champions of the WTC title.
Williamson said arguments are compelling on both sides and said scheduling would be a challenge for the ICC.
“We know how fickle cricket is. The one-off factor does bring a unique dynamic, which does make it exciting and all these sorts of things, and on any given day anything can happen,” he said.
“I guess the challenge would be scheduling and that series amongst a lot of cricket that’s already on, but no doubt the more cricket that you have perhaps within a series, the more you do find out and the more it does reveal itself, but in the same way it was a really exciting match.”
Wicketkeeper B J Watling displayed a lot of grit by continuing to stay on the field despite injuring his finger on the final day.
Watling had already announced that WTC final would be his swansong game but Williamson joked that he would probably change his mind now.
“I don’t know if he’s retiring anymore. He’s a special member, a leader in our group, and really epitomises our team,” he said.
“A scrappy performance, which is close to his heart, because he’s a scrappy player. A great occasion to celebrate, a great game of cricket, and obviously a great career which we’ll celebrate,” he added.