While New Zealand suffered a disappointing loss against Australia in the World Cup, something very important happened during the match that would bring a smile on the face of Kiwi supporters. The captain of their team Kane Williamson was playing another beautiful innings, albeit with a slice of luck, and looked set to record another good score. Unfortunately, he got out on 40 and his team ended up losing by a substantial margin.
But in the course of that innings, Williamson reached a landmark that was very important and worth taking serious note of. He completed 6000 runs in ODI cricket. The reaction from commentator Harsha Bhogle was very poor. Rather than mentioning this achievement of the classy Kiwi batsman with the deserving admiration and celebration, he observed how batsmen are these days getting 10,000 and 11,000 runs but 6000 runs is still a lot of runs.
The Indian commentator obviously had the feats of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in mind and this reaction made him seem too parochial. But then a graphic appeared on the screen which showed how great was Williamson's achievement and how wrong was Bhogle in understating it.
The graphic was a list of the 5 fastest batsmen to get to the 6000 run mark. And guess what? Williamson was at no. 3 in the list. What is even more remarkable is that Kane has taken just three innings more than the man at no. 2, none other than Virat Kohli. The Indian captain needed 136 innings while his New Zealand counterpart took 139 for accumulating 6K runs in ODIs. Yet, the reverance of Williamson the ODI batsmen is not even a fraction of the laurels that Kohli gets.
Yes, Williamson is not as destructive as Kohli. You can even argue that he is not as naturally gifted as Kohli. But there is more than one way to skin a cat and Williamson has been scoring big runs and winning matches for his team as would be expected of a player of his quality. His two hundreds in this World Cup have come in contrasting but challenging circumstances. The first in a tense chase where he put his team across the line in the last over and the second in a recovery act after early wickets.
He may not put bowling attacks to sword like Kohli has often done but is more than capable of hitting big shots and can accelerate in his own way. If he continues to get better, Williamson may even beat Kohli to the 7000 mark. However, his real challenge would come when catching up with Kohli after that since the Indian maestro has been incredibly prolific in the last 2-3 years. But there is no reason to believe that the New Zealander won't also improve with time and become even more fecund in his run-producing ability. Kohli is the king of ODI batting but he needs to watch his back, Williamson is not far away.