WG practised with a broom handle in Bristol, The Don threw a golf ball against a curved water tank and hit the rebound with a stump in Bowral, and The Little Master used his bat edge to hit a golf ball in a sock in Mumbai.

What did The Kane do in Tauranga?

"There was a cricket ball in a sock in the carport," Kane Williamson says. "I had a bat, a stump and my Grandad's golf shaft with the head snapped off. I was at primary school, a time when you can play games against yourself, with different variations to keep it interesting. You're just loving the game."

Was there commentary?


"No, it was more about playing."

Therein lies a home truth. Even last century, Kane Williamson was more interested in doing, rather than conjuring up any theatre about his actions.

Like most cricket fans, he had his favourite players but he emulated rather than idolised them in the backyard. There's an important difference. Once you idolise, you dilute the capacity to be yourself.

"I always loved watching [Sachin] Tendulkar, [Ricky] Ponting and [Jacques] Kallis, New Zealand's interim captain says. "It wasn't about modelling [my game on them] so much. They're just players you like. Everyone's different, and you've got to learn to do things your own way.

"In fact, making the transition to being a test player can be an odd thing. I remember my debut [at Ahmedabad] playing against Tendulkar, [Rahul] Dravid, [VVS] Laxman and [Virender] Sehwag. These were 'the masters' I wanted to watch growing up. Playing them was something where you thought, 'wow' and suddenly you're competing against them, but it was enjoyable."

Williamson bases his batting more on pragmatism than being a stickler for technique.

"I try to look at things logically. I look at threats and practise against them. With technique, 90 per cent of the time you are changing things for the sake of it. There's no real benefit to that, because even during an innings things change and you're also coming up against different conditions and teams.

"Naturally, you see things people do and consider them. Everyone is impressionable in some way but, ultimately, it's about improving your game as best you can and exploring ideas from other people. That can be a positive thing, but you've got to stick to your strengths."

Williamson is embarking on an extraordinary cricketing career, by world rather than New Zealand standards. His statistics are well-documented, so let's avoid those and concentrate on the man generating them.

That man's acute modesty is what resonates most with the Kiwi public. The more self-effacing he becomes, the more he is respected for being himself.

On a superficial level, it might be assumed such an outer layer of introversion mightn't lend itself to leadership, especially given incumbent skipper Brendon McCullum's chutzpah.

Williamson, for instance, would not want to be described as anything other than 'interim captain'. He will not accept the job is his by way of entitlement once McCullum retires. And that, surely, is a compelling reason why it should be his. Complacency can't find a space to squat on his shoulders as he contemplates the legacy the current team must leave for New Zealanders.

"It's still an interim job," he says. "I'm respectful of Brendon taking time off, so I'm not looking beyond that. [His retirement] is not a real thing yet and, with anything I do, I don't look too far ahead. I'm just looking forward to having Brendon back. As a player and captain, he's brilliant.

"The obligation in a position of leadership is to move the team forward and add value, basically building on what Brendon and Hess [coach Mike Hesson] have done so well in the last few years."

That means connecting with fans. After the T20 victory over Sri Lanka at Eden Park, Williamson and Colin Munro were spotted signing autographs on the boundary rope 45 minutes after the winning runs had been hit. There was a time, not so long ago, when that would have been rare.

"When I started, it didn't happen as much as it perhaps should have, but it's now part of the values we want to hold dear," Williamson says. "It comes down to how we conduct ourselves. We want to be engaging with the public. One way is to go out and sign autographs, take the odd photo, and maintain those relationships as normal Kiwis.

"Many kids want autographs from New Zealand sports teams. That was certainly the case for me. I suppose when people want your autograph you think, 'that's a bit odd' but you put it into perspective and make the effort because it makes a difference."

Kane Williamson is 25 years old. Just imagine the wisdom he's going to possess by the time he's 30. Cricket fans should be paying homage to Grandad's broken golf shaft.