Tauranga Boys' College teachers and cricket coaches Neil Howard, Rob Leslie and Roger McBrydie know Kane Williamson as well as anyone outside his family.

But they initially struggled to take the news in this week that their famous old boy is the first New Zealander to be named Wisden's Leading Cricketer in the World.

"We were just shaking our heads going 'wow, wow, wow'," Howard said.

"All of us here are proud of him and he always comes and supports us and we really appreciate that. What's he going to do to top this?"

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Howard owns an extensive collection of Wisden cricket almanacs, the sport's oldest annual publication. He said everyone who saw Williamson play at a young age was not surprised to see him play for New Zealand.

"But for him to become the leading cricketer in the world is really hard to believe. I wouldn't say it is totally a shock after last year when he had the platform to showcase what he can do.

"I just think about how much time he seems to have when he is captaining teams. He doesn't seemed rushed. It is almost a cyber-like brain ticking there and the best option is taken invariably."

Northern Knights allrounder Brett Hampton gave up tennis and took up cricket under Williamson's captaincy in his second to last year at Tauranga Boys' College in 2007.

Hampton was not at all surprised by what Williamson had achieved so early in his career.

"To be honest he has always been a standout from the rest. From what we saw at school it was expected from him. We knew he was going to go on to greater things," Hampton said.

"He definitely had a hell of a work ethic and he matured a lot earlier than maybe we did. We looked up to him as a great leader when we were young. He was just at that higher level. He hated to get out and it was a shock to our team if he failed. He got a hundred most games."

Northern Knights coach James Pamment remembered the teenage Williamson from when he coached the Bay of Plenty senior rep team.

"It is his thirst for learning. If he doesn't know the answer to something he is always prepared to ask a question and he sort of takes that into his game as well," Pamment said.

"I think he is an outstanding problem solver when he is out there in the middle because he is constantly asking questions of himself. When he is preparing he always has a question in his mind around how he can improve and get better.

"We could all talk about his technical aspects and his tactical understanding but it all comes from this thirst for knowledge around how to play this game. That stood out for me right from the very outset when I first met him when he was 15 or 16.

"His inquisitive nature is going to stand him in great stead as probably one of the best captains we are ever going to have as well."