LONDON: Not many captains have received a round of applause after losing a final, but Kane Williamson is different.
When the media applauded him after New Zealand lost a thrilling final against England at Lord’s on Sunday, it showed that there was not a soul who didn’t feel for the Kiwi captain, and his band of fighters.
After losing a World Cup final on number of boundaries hit, it’s easy to complain about the need to change the rules. Williamson, though, is made of different mettle. Losing the second final in a row, this time in a photo-finish, was hurting badly, but even with a choked throat, he was ready to go through what must have been one of the most difficult press conferences of his career.
“Yeah, obviously, just gutted. You know, the guys put in a huge amount of work to get this opportunity, to come here and play in another World Cup final and to pretty much do all you could and still not perhaps get across the line with some small margins. I think throughout this whole campaign in a lot of my press conferences I have spoken about ‘uncontrollables’ and there were a couple today that were pretty hard to swallow,” he said.
Williamson then proceeded to compliment England. “Once again, take nothing away from England’s campaign, not just this match, but throughout, all the cricket they have played, they are deserving winners. Well either side walking away with the title today probably feels fortunate having it go down to a tie after regular time and then I think another one, wasn’t it, after six more balls? So, yeah, one of those things,” he said.
“Yeah, I think the thing you walk away with is the amount of heart and the amount of fight the guys have shown throughout… but probably none more than the match we have just witnessed and both sides showed that today and it did come down to – I don’t know how they won it – what was it, boundaries or something? (Smiling) Someone had to walk away with the title and we’re gutted that it’s not us,” he said.
On losing on boundary count, the Kiwi skipper said: “I suppose you never thought you would have to ask that question and I never thought I would have to answer it. Yeah, while the emotions are raw it is pretty hard to swallow when two teams have worked really, really hard to get to this moment in time and when sort of two attempts to separate them with a winner and a loser it still doesn’t perhaps sort of shine with one side coming through, you know. It is what it is, really. The rules are there at the start,” he said.
“But yeah, very tough to swallow. A great game of cricket and all you guys probably enjoyed it… it could have been this, could have been that, but it is what it is.”
It’s a difficult task to get Williamson to criticise the umpiring. England opener Jason Roy was lucky to survive a close shout for an lbw call. “You have small margins like that, you have other sort of human decisions that can go one way or another and that is just part and parcel of the sport. Guys moved on from that and a number of other parts in that match that would have been nice if they snuck our way.”
Some may question his judgement on whether the out of form opener Martin Guptill was the right choice for a Super Over strategy. But Williamson defended the decision. “He is such a fast runner and that is all he had to do and he was short by a little bit. Yeah, we didn’t really do a lot of Super Over practice but at the same time it’s cricket and guys do work on hitting the ball out of the park. Yeah, we tied that too, didn’t we? It is one of those days,” he said, sporting a graceful smile in a defeat that would leave many captains exasperated and deflated.
There was another incident which would have irritated any other captain. The ball hitting Ben Stokes’ bat and going for a four. “The rule has been there for a long time. But look, you can’t sort of look at that and think that perhaps that decided the match. There were so many other bits and pieces to that game that were so important. When it comes down to a tie, you start looking at every single delivery, don’t you?” he said.
There was one point where Williamson, by now choked with emotion, couldn’t complete his answer when asked whether the rule beat his side more than anything else. “The rules are there I guess, aren’t they, and certainly something you don’t consider going into the match… I don’t even know what the boundary count was but we were slightly behind. Yeah, very, very tough to – yeah, there you go,” he said.
It was tough on him, even though he was named the ‘Player of the Tournament’. Captain Williamson, though, isn’t about individual glory.
Tough to swallow but rules are there from the start: Kane Williamson00:58
“An individual performance is only a contribution to something greater than yourself and that is the team. The idea is that you are helping your team get across the line and the only thing you can perhaps think of at this point in time is what more I could have done when the margin is so small. I think all the guys should take a lot of pride in what they have been able to achieve throughout this whole campaign and individual accolades are very much secondary to the efforts that everybody within the whole squad, the support staff as well, we are all putting into the bucket.” he said.
Are the players angry at losing like this? Williamson became philosophical. “Laugh or cry, it’s your choice, isn’t it? It’s not anger. There’s a lot of disappointment, I suppose. Yeah, the guys are really feeling it… we know this game can be fickle in its nature and there are parts that, as hard as you try, sometimes those cards don’t fall your way and today it ebbed and flowed.”