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“It's a fine line, T20 cricket” – Williamson shrugs off semifinal defeat

New Zealand captain gives England bowlers credit for scripting win, praises his side's consistency in the tournament

31 March 2016 12:30 By Anand Vasu, New Delhi

Viewers of the highly successful medical drama, House, will be familiar with the character of Dr James Wilson, soulmate of the irascible and brilliant protagonist, Gregory House. One of Wilson’s sterling qualities is his bedside manner, which enables the oncologist to deliver the news of terminal illness and the imminence of death with such sensitivity that patients often leave his chambers profusely thanking him despite hearing the worst. Should a New Zealand version of this television series ever be made, Kane Williamson would be a shoo-in for that role.

There’s a gentleness to Williamson’s eyes, an evenness in tone and if such a thing is possible even a tenderness to his boyish yet manly face, and when he fronted the media on Wednesday (March 30) having just lost the ICC World Twenty20 2016 semifinal to England, Williamson lent new gravitas to the old phrase, taking the rough with the smooth.

“We were 130 for 3, which certainly is a very good platform in any match that you play in T20 cricket,” said Williamson. “We couldn't capitalise on it. It is such a small part of what you look at when you look for things to improve on. It would have been nice if we had got a few more there. It wasn't due to lack of effort, and England bowled well. It's one of those things. T20 is very fickle in nature, and today wasn't meant to be for us.”

Expectedly, he was asked if New Zealand had a problem with knockout matches, especially semifinals of global tournaments, which, at a different time seemed an impassable hurdle for the team. But this time was easier, for Williamson only had to point to the last World Cup. "I think every cricket game you play you look at it as an isolated event,” he said. “You accept that when you turn up to the ground you want to play your best cricket, but if the other team plays better, then you tend to come second. That's what happened to us. We didn't win. We didn't play the better cricket. England were very very good. As simple as that. We played a semifinal not a long time ago. We went all right. We didn't come second. We came first in that one. That's just cricket. We move on and we look to get better as a team.”

The crux of New Zealand ending up with only 153 after being 91 for 1 was their inability to get the England bowling away in the second half, and their cause certainly wasn’t helped by batsmen losing their wickets to, or being unable to put away, full-tosses that came their way. “That didn't quite unfold the way we would have liked,” said Williamson. “Saying that, it's a fine line. A couple of full tosses and maybe other deliveries, when you look back and think a few inches the other way and you get that extra 20 runs. It's a fine line, T20 cricket. Today didn't work out for us the way we would have liked. I think the overall tournament was a real positive. We played some good, consistent T20 cricket and in this format you can always lose one. We came up against a better team today.”

Typically, Williamson gave credit where it was due, rather than try to hide behind extraneous excuses as to why the match played out as it did. “Their death bowling was very good. In between they hit the yorkers really well. By taking those wickets off certain deliveries, that puts you under pressure as a new batter coming to the crease has to try to hit from ball one. That is never easy,” he said. “They were able to take wickets consistently through that middle to back-end period, which meant that stemmed the flow of runs in that death stage. You can look at it in a number of areas, but at the end of the day we just didn't get things right. It wasn't for the lack of trying, it's just a fine line in the game that we play. We will all be better for it. We will move on and be a better team.”

As with all modern players, who know fully well the risks of basing their self worth purely on the results they achieve, Williamson stressed on the importance of keeping the good work going and chins up. “I think it is very important to be process-driven in this format and play fearlessly,” he said. “There is no room for conservative cricket. Saying that, you want to be smart in how you want to execute your skills. Do it as best as you can. Let things unfold to a certain extent. Sometimes in this format the harder you try the worse it can get.”

Losing is never fun, but for all they achieved in this tournament, New Zealand can certainly walk away with their heads held high.