IT is a feather in Yorkshire’s cap that they occasionally have available two of the so-called “Fab Four” batsmen in world cricket.
Joe Root and Kane Williamson, respectively England’s Test captain and New Zealand’s captain in all formats, play as and when international commitments allow, with Williamson nearing the end of his fourth stint now as overseas player.
Alongside them in the batting equivalent of The Beatles is India captain Virat Kohli and the former Australia captain Steve Smith, who is hoping to “get back to where he once belonged”, if you pardon the indulgence, once his year-long ban ends after the ball-tampering scandal.
David Warner, his partner in crime and the batting equivalent of the Fifth Beatle, perhaps, is actually now ahead of Root in the International Cricket Council player rankings, with Root having dropped to fifth after last week’s third Test against India at Trent Bridge.
Williamson, who is in third place behind Kohli and Smith, says that he is “not in the business of making comparisons” between his peers.
He prefers to leave that to the likes of yours truly, who would assert, without hesitation, his right to be part of the esteemed “Fab Four”, who, with a little help from their friends, have played a huge part in the success of their respective countries in recent years.
Asked how he feels about the “Fab Four” concept and the other three members, Williamson, who plays the last game of his current Yorkshire stint against Somerset in the County Championship at Emerald Headingley from Wednesday, said: “I know who you’re alluding to. I think those three players are world-class, leading the way and setting the standard.
“We’re seeing it in the current series at the moment, between England and India, which has been a fantastic series so far.
“But I’m not in the business of making comparisons; I just like to try and do my bit for the team I’m involved in as well as I can.”
Williamson, 28, is as much a fan as anybody when it comes to watching the likes of Kohli, Smith and Root.
They’ve all done extremely well in adapting their games in different formats and different conditions, and they’re great to watch; I enjoy watching them.Kane Williamson
As a craftsman of the game, and one of the few who can seemingly adapt seamlessly to the three different formats, he enjoys the fact that they each bring something different to the stage.
“Those guys are all brilliant players and all very different from one another,” he continued.
“They’ve all done extremely well in adapting their games in different formats and different conditions, and they’re great to watch; I enjoy watching them.
“I’m friends with Rooty and know the other two as well. They’re all good guys, and good guys to learn from.”
Any batsman could learn from the way that Kohli, in particular, has gone about his business in England this year.
A man who struggled markedly in his last Test series in England in 2014, when he scored 134 runs in the five Tests at 13.40, has so far made 440 runs in the first three Tests of the current series at 73.33.
“Kohli is a phenomenal player,” said Williamson. “He’s scored plenty of runs already in this series and keeps churning them out.”
Kohli has now leapfrogged Smith back to the top of the ICC rankings, but Williamson said that he pays little attention to such tables of merit.
“People talk about rankings and things, but they can change very quickly,” he said.
“I’d much rather just enjoy the cricket and try and do my bit as well as I can.
“The other stuff is perhaps for the media and the people who make those decisions.
“It’s not something that spurs me on, to be perfectly honest.”
As much as any top international player can become part of the furniture at an English county these days, with the schedule making it difficult for men such as Williamson to play regular county cricket, he is certainly a familiar face now as an overseas player.
It says something for Yorkshire, in fact, that they can keep attracting back a player of his quality, while it also speaks volumes for Williamson’s love of the club.
“I certainly always enjoy the opportunity to come back and play here at Yorkshire,” he said.
“I guess it’s always a little bit of a balancing act around scheduling and whether the opportunity can arise, and whether Yorkshire are happy to have me back.
“But it’s great that it’s worked out for a period of time this time, as it’s a couple of years since I have been back, and it’s nice to see some familiar faces and a number of new players in the squad as well.”
Williamson added: “It’s just a great club to be a part of, a passionate club and a great place to play.
“I enjoy the challenge of it, too, because the conditions are different (in England) and so it challenges you in a lot of different ways.
“There’s been a number of personnel changes (at Yorkshire), which is part and parcel, because you go through different times as a side with guys coming in and finding their feet at the next level, and guys simply who’ve played long enough and who decide to go and do something else.
“It’s quite cool to have been part of it for a period of time and seen a number of those transitions.
“It was great to be able to put my hand up this year, and that Yorkshire were also keen to have me back.
“Once again, I’ve really enjoyed it.”