The ‘Fab Four’, as the four greatest cricket batters of the current generation are called, refers to Steve Smith, Joe Root, Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson, with just one test century separating each of them in that order. Williamson not only has the least of them but is also less celebrated than the others. Yet, in the space of two weeks, he has pulled off two of the greatest test wins of all time. First, a one-run win against England when Williamson scored a hundred after New Zealand followed on. And then earlier this week, he ran the winning run off the last ball of a test match against Sri Lanka, with a fourth innings unbeaten century. This article shows these were no exceptions – Williamson has a habit of delivering in big moments (his staggering fourth innings stats are testimony).
How does he do it?
“Williamson has a system that insulates him from this toxicity. A home that reminds him his value as a person doesn’t depend on his success as a sportsman. And a workplace that marks wins and losses in almost the same way – by getting together and having a beer.
All of this gives him clarity and that clarity unleashes his genius.
What happens when one of the best players in the world realises he doesn’t have to look back and feel haunted by the matches he could have won? That he can just take pleasure from the fact that he was good enough to be in those places.
Based on the events in Christchurch, it puts Williamson in a state of mind where he can harness all his talent, all his hand-eye coordination and all his timing and hit a game-breaking boundary, beating not one but two deep points, even though they had a 50-metre head start on the ball and there was barely a gap between them; at best it was the length of a pitch. Power and precision don’t usually go so well together without help from a green screen.”
His ability to stay calm and put things in perspective is of course also helped by the lack of limelight shown on him unlike the other three of the Fab four:
“In some ways, Williamson is well placed to be this way, to escape the bonds that come with greatness. Virat Kohli can’t do that. He can’t even be sure of the privacy inside his own hotel room. Joe Root can’t do that. He scored all the runs in the world in 2021 and still all anybody asked of him was why his team kept playing so badly. Steven Smith can’t do that. He once made a mistake that made the Australian prime minister mad. It is perhaps the one critical advantage he has over the rest of the fab four. He can afford to be detached. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to win. Just that, more often than not, he is in the best headspace to do so.”
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