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The frictionless genius of Kane Williamson

His metrics speak the same language his batting does. They sometimes pass you by, to the degree that remembering to include him in the big four is like a little win.

Neither his home nor away average is the highest among the quartet, so 55.06 at home won’t leap out at you like Kohli’s 64.68 or Smith’s 77.25. And 49.93 away is just marginally less than Smith’s 50.96, even though it’s comfortably above Root (44.95) and Kohli (46.79). The difference between the two, though, is the smallest among the four. As is the difference between his first and second-innings averages – 52.60 and 51.18; Kohli averages 61.39 and 42.93, Root 55.75 and 43.53 and Smith 77.92 and 40.77. Even in this coding, Williamson is equipoised come rain, hail, hell or high water.

If you really wanted to stand him out from the quartet, you could throw his fourth-innings average at it. At 60.81, it towers above Root’s (34.94) and Smith’s (31.11) and at nine runs, is a low-rise building better than Kohli’s. His average in Asia is better than those of Smith and Root and in wins, it is second only to Smith. Smith is the only other from the group to have averaged 60-plus in four of the last five calendar years.

Equally it’s not difficult to let some humanness in through the cracks. He doesn’t have a hundred in South Africa (but only four Tests there because, New Zealand) and averages less than 40 there and in England and India.

But at some point tomorrow a question could creep up on us. How good, maybe how great, was this innings? The result will colour assessments but it’ll be worth reminding ourselves of the basic sternness of the challenge laid out in front of him – the surface, the trouble New Zealand were in, Yasir Shah and company (and usually, ‘and company’ doesn’t even matter in these situations). Keep those two balls that he played for no runs, the googly that didn’t bounce and the perfect legbreak, in your mind. No doubt some will remember a boundary here and there and some grump will of course point to the two missed chances, like it takes away from the innings.

Then you’ll think back through his other hundreds and maybe the early match-saving hundred against South Africa will stand out. Or that eye-popping 140 at the Gabba, which, taken together, tell you something about the vast spectrum within which his batting can operate.

But as you go through the 19 you’ll realise that so many of them have been of such a quality, of making difficult situations appear – as his batting coach Craig McMillan would later say – “ridiculously easy”, that this one blends in with the others. Like his shot-making, if they’re all so special then it doesn’t mean none are special. It means that we need to redefine special.