New Zealand’s Kane Williamson was happy to prove elegance and timing still had a place when batting in one-day international cricket with a brilliant century in a three-wicket win over England on Sunday.
Victory at the Rose Bowl saw World Cup finalists New Zealand go 2-1 up in the five-match series.
The Black Caps, chasing 303 for victory, were wobbling at 36 for two.
But a New Zealand record third-wicket stand of 206 between Williamson (118) and Ross Taylor (110), ultimately proved decisive.
There have long been anguished debates about whether advances in bat technology and modern-day power-hitting are making ODI cricket too much of a batsmen’s game.
But the 24-year-old Williamson proved the traditional virtues of touch and timing remain effective in white-ball cricket.
Indeed his final scoring shot, in a sublime 113-ball innings which included 12 fours, was a seemingly effortless straight six off David Willey.
“I don’t think aggressive has to mean slogging or hitting the ball 150 metres,” said man-of-the-match Williamson, who also bowled England captain Eoin Morgan for 71 with his off-spin.
“I think the style of play is what you want to achieve in an innings and the runs you want to get and that dictates whoâ€™s picked,” added Williamson following his seventh hundred in 77 matches at this level.
“Most teams have a balance of players who contribute to that and we’re no different.”
New Zealand suffered a setback before this match when in-form paceman Trent Boult was ruled out of the rest of the tour with a back injury.
– Key wickets –
But replacement Ben Wheeler, like Boult a brisk left-armer, marked his ODI debut with an impressive return of three for 63 in 10 overs.
“He came in and bowled really well, swung it a little bit and bowled with good pace,” said Williamson of the 23-year-old Central Districts bowler.
“I think he just enjoyed himself really. He picked up some key wickets as well.”
Such is the changing nature of 50-over cricket that New Zealand did well to hold England, who won the toss, to a total of 302 all out.
England lost their last five wickets for just 14 runs, with 28 balls left when the innings ended.
“It was nice to pick up those late wickets that restricted them â€“- you donâ€™t usually use that in the same sentence as 300 but with the way scores have been recently it was a good effort,” said Williamson.
Meanwhile, Morgan was not worried by the fact England failed to bat out their overs, saying it was a consequence of a new approach that saw them score a national record 408 for nine in their 210-run win in the series opener at Edgbaston.
By making 302, Morgan’s side became the first England team to pass 300 in three successive ODIs and the former Ireland international was keen for them to retain their attacking intent
“We’re trying to change our process and mind-set with the bat — which may take time,” said Morgan, also England’s captain when they suffered a humiliating first-round exit at this year’s World Cup.
“We’ve come a long way in the last three games, scoring 300 plus in each of them — which is a huge achievement and a big turnaround.
“I want the guys to continue with that mind-set, and not worry about batting 50 overs,” added the former Ireland international, who top-scored in an England innings where both Ben Stokes (68) and Joe Root (54) also passed fifty.
“I think that makes guys hesitate and question their natural way of playing. I don’t want that to happen.”
The series continues at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.