Speaking to India spinner Ravi Ashwin, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said he believes good decision-making is what sets apart the best from the rest.
Speaking on Ashwin's show DRS with Ash, Williamson answered the question of what 'excellence' means to him, arguing that while natural ability is prevalent at the top level, decision-making had the ability to push players to the next level.
"Perhaps decision-making is is actually one of the biggest parts to what people might describe as excellence", the Kiwi skipper said. "Because, one of the beauties in cricket, and probably most sports, there's a lot of different shapes and sizes. Natural ability is probably there in most people, but they're all at different levels. However, if you're able to make better decisions [more often] than not then I do think that it gives you a pretty good opportunity."
The No.4 ranked Test batsman also said that excellence wasn't necessarily something he strived for, instead targetting continual improvement.
"It's funny because you don't tend to think about excellence. You tend to think about, I believe anyway, in improvement. I think about trying to improve all the time. We're fortunate to play in teams, in a number of different ones, and all you want to do is help that team as much as you can, I reckon."
Asked whether he thought planning ahead, and sticking to those plans, was something central to New Zealand's recent success, Williamson suggested that the plans they made were often more over-arching. Instead of planning for a single match, he said the side made plans about the way they wanted to play, and commitment to those plans was important.
"I don't think I've ever planned for a game and it's gone perfectly. There's often things that you set out to do but as you know, and everybody else who's played the game, it's very rarely perfect.
"So, a lot of the time, it's adapting and looking to adjust in the moment and be flexible enough to do that. So, you know, I suppose that the planning is not a rigid system. It's being flexible enough to commit to the style of play that you want to be playing day in, day out."
Ashwin also asked the New Zealand skipper about the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 final, and the decisions he made about who should bat during the Super Over.
"We had a very quick, brief discussion with the coach, Garry. We obviously had a few guys in mind. And because we were going to be batting second in the Super Over it was going to be dependent on the total that we needed to chase and who the most-likely bowler is that they're going to use.
"Then you're basically trying to give yourself the best opportunity and someone like Neesham, who had throughout the competition hit the ball really nicely, Martin didn't spend as much time in the middle but we all know how capable he is for hitting the ball out of the park.
"The left-hander part was really important, because there was a short boundary on one side and so, as we saw, that proved to be effective. And then, at the very worst, they're both very quick between the wickets – we knew that we needed one, maybe two, boundaries to chase down whatever it was, 15 – and, then it was about being busy.
"So, yeah. I was padded up to come in at No 3. But it was a really interesting experience to be a part of. Afterwards, look, they did a superb job to effectively chase it down, or get the same score as we know, it's always not that easy to do in one over. And, Jofra is a world-class bowler. And then things unfolded and decided our fate."
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