Why England prize Kane Williamson's wicket so highly
Watch day one of the first Test between New Zealand and England, in Tauranga, live on Sky Sports Cricket (channel 404) and Sky Sports Main Event (channel 401) from 9pm on Wednesday.
By Ben Kosky
Last Updated: 20/11/19 8:50pm
Jofra Archer has already billed New Zealand captain Kane Williamson as the prize scalp for England’s bowlers to strive for in this Test series.
Archer even suggested shifting Williamson from the crease might not be too unlike the task of dismissing Steve Smith - a thought that must surely have filled most of his team-mates with horror.
True, the opposing captain is usually a bowler's top target in any series, but the Black Caps skipper's record with the bat, on home soil at least, indicates that Archer's assessment is an accurate one.
Williamson succeeded Brendon McCullum as New Zealand skipper in 2016 and the statistics indicate that captaincy has certainly not had a detrimental impact on his batting.
That charge, of course, is frequently levelled at opposite number Joe Root - but Williamson's batting average as captain in home Tests has actually risen during his leadership period.
The 29-year-old has led the Black Caps at home in 15 Tests, accumulating five centuries during that time, as well as an unbeaten 200 against Bangladesh at the beginning of this year, at an average of 61.25.
New Zealand have won all but one of those home series - the exception coming in 2017, when South Africa edged them out 1-0 over three matches - but even then Williamson's run aggregate of 309 was the highest of any player on either side.
Williamson's past performances in home Tests against England also support the notion he is the man the tourists need to get out if they are to claim their first series win in New Zealand since 2007/08.
Two years ago, his innings of 102 cemented the Kiwis' advantage in the first Test at Auckland, ensuring a sizeable lead and ultimately an innings victory after they had rolled England over for only 58.
By contrast, the tourists managed to dismiss Williamson for 22 and a duck in the second Test at Christchurch and almost levelled the series before the Black Caps, chasing an unlikely 382, dug in for a draw at 256-8.
Back in 2013, Williamson also played a pivotal role in New Zealand's fortunes, top-scoring with an unbeaten 55 in the second innings to secure a draw after England had forced them to follow on in the second Test at Wellington.
He followed that up with 91 in the final match of the series at Auckland, setting the tone as New Zealand took control and challenged their opponents to score an enormous 481 for victory.
England eventually held on to draw the match and the series, with Matt Prior and Monty Panesar shepherding them to safety at 315-9 after Williamson had picked up four wickets with his off-breaks.
However, even if England succeed in removing Williamson cheaply, the bad news is that he is not the most in-form batsman in the current New Zealand Test side.
That honour is currently held by left-hander Tom Latham, who has amassed a total of 930 runs in his 12 Test innings during the past year.
Watch the first Test between New Zealand and England live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event from 9pm.