Birmingham Bears v Yorkshire Vikings: Martyn Moxon hopeful Kane Williamson can give Yorkshire vital lift
ONLY two batsmen are in the top-10 in the International Cricket Council world rankings in all three forms of the game '“ Tests, ODIs and T20s.
One is Joe Root, the other Kane Williamson.
Root goes out of the Yorkshire side that returns to T20 action tonight against Birmingham Bears as he is playing for England against Sri Lanka at Lord’s.
But Williamson makes his first appearance for Yorkshire since 2014, having re-joined the club on a six-week stint, a spell that could not be better timed from a White Rose perspective.
Yorkshire have lost their opening four games this summer in limited-overs cricket: their first three T20 group matches, and their opening fixture in the Royal London Cup.
In the most recent game, against Worcestershire in the Royal London, they barely came second as the visitors won with 24.3 overs to spare at Headingley.
Yorkshire’s confidence is naturally at a pretty low-ebb.
For all their success in the County Championship, they appear no closer to cracking the one-day codes.
And yet there is plenty of time to turn things around.
There are 11 games left in the T20 group stage, and seven group games left in the Royal London Cup.
Although it will need a collective effort to engineer success, Williamson is determined to help play his part.
Asked whether he can help kickstart Yorkshire’s one-day season, the New Zealand captain replied: “I’m just looking forward to playing my role in the team, which is what every player is trying to do.
“It is tough, especially with white-ball cricket, which is pretty fickle in its nature.
“You can obviously lose games – that is part and parcel of sport. We will absolutely be looking to make those adjustments, take those learnings into account and put out better and better performances.”
Yorkshire are the only county without a T20 win so far this season, and they face a Birmingham side who have won two of their opening three games.
The White Rose have never won a T20 match at Edgbaston, where Warwickshire have won two of the previous four meetings, with one game rained off and the other abandoned.
First and foremost, Williamson is just happy to be back with a club that have come to regard him as part of the family.
The 25-year-old played for Yorkshire in 2013 and 2014, helping them to the Championship in 2014.
“It’s fantastic to be back in this part of the world,” said Williamson.
“Obviously I didn’t get an opportunity to play last year, but I played a couple before that so it is exciting to be back in the Yorkshire outfit.
“There is a fantastic culture here at Yorkshire, so that goes a long way in making guys feeling comfortable in how they want to go about their cricket.
“It has certainly shown with the number of guys that have represented England in recent years and is a huge positive for the club moving forward.”
Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, is delighted to have Williamson back to help the club’s search for silverware in all competitions.
Like Root, the Kiwi is one of the few players who appears equally adept whatever the length or state of the match.
“Kane is captain in all three formats for New Zealand now and he is one of the best batsmen in the world,” said Moxon.
“He’s similar to Joe Root in that he can play all formats; their methods are very similar, and it’s a great skill to have.
“Quality overseas players are bound to make a difference to any team, and it’s good timing from our point of view.
“We need a bit of a boost from somewhere in one-day cricket, and hopefully Kane can give us that extra bit of experience and know-how.”
Moxon believes Yorkshire have lacked confidence of late, particularly with the bat, but is optimistic their one-day fortunes can change.
Twenty20, in particular, is a game of momentum, and teams can find it just as easily as they can mislay it.
“It’s not too late for us in T20, but clearly we can’t afford to lose too many more,” said Moxon.
“I think Lancashire lost six last year and still won the tournament, so we’ve got a bit of room for manoeuvre.
“But clearly we’re going to have to play better than we are at the minute, because we’ve been losing periods of play quite badly, which has cost us.
“We haven’t executed our skills for long enough, but the players just need to keep believing in themselves and they’re all working incredibly hard.”
Ballance, Bresnan, Carver, Coad, Hodd, Leaning, Lees (captain), Lyth, Patterson, Plunkett, Rashid, Rhodes, Willey, Williamson.