Ricky Ponting’s initial assessment of Kane Williamson’s batting turned out to be very inaccurate.
Ricky Ponting’s initial assessment of Kane Williamson’s batting turned out to be very inaccurate.

Ponting compares world No.3 Kane Williamson to Steve Smith

FORMER Australian captain Ricky Ponting has praised Kane Williamson, comparing him to Steve Smith - but he didn't rate the Black Caps skipper the best.

Ahead of the three-Test series between Australia and the Black Caps, Ponting said he was not a believer in Williamson early on but had since changed his mind.

"Brendon McCullum said to me then, 'This kid is going to be one of the best players in the world'," Ponting said in an interview with Cricket Australia's official website.

"And I thought, 'Really?'. He was pretty loose outside off stump and was going pretty hard at the ball.

"But when you see him now and what he's developed into, he plays the ball later than anybody, he makes big runs, he makes runs consistently and he's been talked about as a being one of the best players in the world for the last four or five years.

"And he's their captain, so he's a very important player for them."

Ponting said his former side would have to get Williamson "out of his bubble" to stop him from causing damage in the series.

"He's a bit like (Steve) Smith. He's very regimented in the way he plays, he plays the ball late, he doesn't get a big stride at the ball," Ponting said.

"But he's just really hard to get out so I'm looking forward to the battle between him and our quicks.

"I think you've got to bowl to him a little bit like I think how you should bowl to Smithy - on a fourth or fifth stump line and reasonably full.

"He plays the ball really late and drops the ball down to third man a lot, so I think your third slip can be up really close to make him think he can't play that shot in case it carries to slip.

"(You should) play around with the field behind the wicket, just to get him thinking about it. He looks like one of those guys that, like Smithy, once they get into their bubble and they're happy with the way everything's going, you can't unsettle them, and you can't get them out.

"So I think you have to unsettle him first and sometimes that's as easy as just a strange field placement. Put someone in a different spot just to get the batsman thinking, 'What are they doing here?'

New Zealand are ranked No.2 in the ICC Test rankings.
New Zealand are ranked No.2 in the ICC Test rankings.

"If you just get him thinking something different, you can be a step ahead."

Since the start of 2014, Williamson has averaged 64.68 in Test cricket, smashing 17 centuries in his past 47 matches. He is currently ranked No.3 in the ICC Test batting rankings, sitting behind Virat Kohli and Steve Smith.

The first Test between the Black Caps and Australia in Perth starts on December 12.

Originally published in NZ Herald and republished with permission.

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