13 July 2019
London: The euphoria around the final of the World Cup cannot be missed, but for New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, it is about keeping the basics right and playing the match against England at Lords on Sunday as just another game in the tournament.
"Yes, any game that you play in, you deal with different distractions and, naturally, in a World Cup final it brings other distractions. There's a lot more people here today and perhaps that may be one.
"There are a whole bunch of other things where all different thoughts can go through your mind, but certainly where Gary (Stead) and myself and all the group come from, it's about keeping your feet on the ground and looking to play the sort of cricket you want to play to give yourself the best chance regardless of whether it's a semifinal, a round-robin game or, fortunately enough now, a final.
"At the end of the day, it is still a cricket match, where both teams are looking to go out and implement their plans as best they can to give themselves the best chance," Williamson said on the eve of the final.
England's opening partnerships between Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow have been a pain for the opposition teams in the World Cup and Williamson noted that the team is pretty much aware of the same.
"Yeah, those two have been fantastic throughout this whole competition and prior to that as well. And I think we have mentioned before, there are a number of other parts to perhaps playing in a World Cup final. But there is a huge amount of respect for the match-winners that they have within their side, obviously the top of the order and throughout.
"But the focus for us is very much about the cricket that we want to play and the performance we want to put on the board and if we do that, we have seen throughout this competition that anybody can beat anybody," he pointed out.
New Zealand had lost in the final against Australia in the 2015 World Cup. When asked if anything had changed personally since then, Williamson said: "Four years ago, how did I feel? Yeah, I don't know, it's just very different. We have a very different group, a slightly different vibe and ethos and how we operate. At the same time, there's real commitment which is a really positive thing and it has held us in good stead up to this point. So the focus for us is on the cricket that we want to play and we want to be proud of the performance that we put on the board."
But Williamson clearly doesn't wish to be caught up by emotions and the effect results have on individuals. "I try not to get too caught up in the results and hopefully not too emotional about just the outcome and maybe look at it with a bit more reason and where we perhaps could have improved and where some things that were out of our control had an impact on the game and then try and move on from that as quickly as possible.
"So there's always more to the picture than just the end point and that is the focus for us as a team. It's actually putting our efforts into the moment and how we want to operate as a group. It may well be very different to other sides and how they operate, which is fine, but we trust in it.
"It is important that we look forward to tomorrow and treat the final with huge amount of respect, because it's not very often that you get the opportunity to be in a World Cup final. We are very much focussed on what we need to try and achieve," Williamson explained.
The wicket wears a green look, but Williamson is not perturbed. "Perhaps encouraging to seam bowlers on both sides. But we don't know what the wicket has in store, there's still a bit of time between now and the start of play and I haven't had a close look at the wicket just yet, because we have just arrived.
"Usually, it's a fairly fair surface. The guys need to adapt quickly to it, like any other surface that we have seen in the World Cup," he said.
Adapting has been the key with the teams in this event, but the Kiwis have done it really well. In fact, Williamson is very proud of the way his boys have time and again risen to the occasion.
"Yeah, it is a challenge. Most teams having played here before expected scores to be a lot higher than what we have seen, but the reality is that they have been quite tough surfaces and there have been surfaces that have aged throughout. So trying to make those adjustments is really important.
"In the last game, I think both the sides looked at the surface and thought it was a really good one, and thought perhaps 300 and something was what was going to be at play, but after 15 overs or so, they must have been thinking 'this is really quite difficult and 300 looks like a long, long way away'. So if we are able to achieve something a little bit more realistic on that surface, it gives you every chance to win matches.
"And we have done it on a number of occasions, but we will have to be good at doing that tomorrow. Surfaces at times have been hard to read, especially with the pre-emptive ideas with which most teams come into the World Cup. So, yeah, tomorrow is a new challenge for us and we will need to make those adjustments quickly," he signed off.