George Carlin, the great American comedian, has a stand-up routine about the “stupid things we say”, knocking on the expressions in English that over time have become cliches. He riffs on “it's the quiet ones you have to watch out”, going on to say, “while you are watching the quiet one, a noisy one will f*****g kill you!”
David Warner, in these times of T20, is certainly a noisy one. In fact, it's the noisy ones that get all the attention and the glory in T20s, and in our modern lives even, it would seem. Warner has certainly carried his IPL side, Sunrisers Hyderabad, for more than a season, and is their batting talisman. SRH are very reliant on the diminutive Aussie to provide most of the runs and he hasn't let them down very often. But against Delhi Daredevils, the pace of Chris Morris rocked SRH early as their captain was sent packing in the second over of the match.
But Warner had done the best thing he could have done for his side — next to scoring a big one that is — even before the coin was tossed. He made space for the quiet Kane Williamson in the playing XI, rejigging the middle order, pushing Moises Henriques down to provide more solidity there.
In his first IPL match of the season, Williamson, not really known for his power but his finesse and the preternatural sense for the line and length of the ball hurled towards him, put on a show that would put all the noisy ones to shame. The first delivery he faced from Morris, who was cranking up to the high 140kmphs, he delicately cut through backward point that would demoralise any bowler. It was a good length delivery and wasn't short enough to be cut, but Williamson who had picked the trajectory so well, had gone back and across, and allowed the ball to actually go past him before slicing it through the only gap that would fetch him four runs.
After a quiet over against the equally cagey Zaheer Khan, and in the first over after powerplay, Williamson had reached 12 off 14 balls. When a perfectly timed flick off Angelo Mathews found the midwicket fielder, it seemed to set something off in Williamson's mind. The next delivery, on length and at 128kmph, was deposited over midwicket for the first of his five sixes. Mathews responded with a slower delivery but Williamson was ahead of the game. He glided down the wicket and cleanly lofted the 110kmph delivery over long off, and just like that, he had motored to 25 off 18 deliveries.
When Zaheer came back for his second over, he kept a tight leash by only conceding singles off the first five deliveries, a victory for the bowler against two set batsmen. The DD captain was content to concede a single off the last delivery as well, and pushed his fielders to protect the offside boundary. Instantly knowing the line of attack to be outside off, Williamson shuffled across and lapped the short-of-length slower delivery, aimed wide of offstump over the short fine leg fielder for a four. It was a great batsman, in terrific form, outsmarting a clever bowler.
In an interview with this author, the former Kiwi pacer and bowling coach Shane Bond talked about Williamson's extraordinary abilities that make him a great batsman. “From my experience, just working with Tim Southee and working through some variations in the nets up against Williamson, his ability to see what was going on in the hand, and see the ball, was staggering. Even I (as the coach watching) couldn’t see the seam but he could see the different finger positions, what Tim was trying to do, he could tell whether the ball was wobbling, he could tell which way (Tim) was trying to swing it. May be, that is a mark of a genius. I was staggered by his ability to pick that up so early. Maybe, that’s what separates the great players from the not-so-great.”
“As good a pull shot you will see”, gushed Sunil Gavaskar on air, as Williamson calmly planted Pat Cummins' 147kmph delivery over midwicket. “He gets in to great positions,” said the others in the commentary box. “He is moving around the crease but his head is so still!” noted the great former Indian opener. To prove his point, on the second delivery of the 15th over from Zaheer, Williamson shuffled to off stump allowing the veteran to aim for the stumps, which he duly obliged and the Kiwi star flicked it for another boundary.
Amit Mishra was carted for multiple sixes' Mathews was targeted again for boundaries. By the end of 16th over, Williamson had reached 89 runs (off just 50 balls, 6x4, 5x6), the highest score for a SRH batsman this season. It took a bit of a miscue and a tremendous running catch by Shreyas Iyer to prevent the New Zealand captain from scoring his maiden IPL ton. He had set the game up for his side which they won quite comfortably by 15 runs in the end.
Delhi may have thought that they would be unstoppable once they got rid of Warner early but on Wednesday, it was the quiet one they needed to watch out for.
Updated Date: Apr 20, 2017 08:10 AM