"We're seeing the dawn of probably our greatest ever batsman."

Perhaps it takes one to know one, but that is New Zealand cricketing great Martin Crowe's declaration about Kane Williamson's talent.

Today, at a wide-ranging and candid media conference on Eden Park, Crowe anointed Williamson among a field of candidates which includes himself, protégé Ross Taylor, current skipper Brendon McCullum and the likes of Glenn Turner and Bert Sutcliffe.

The statement comes after Williamson became the fastest New Zealand batsman to 3000 test runs - in 71 innings, two fewer than previous record-holder Crowe. Williamson's average has reached 45.96, the best by any New Zealander who has played 20 or more test innings.


Crowe also held B-J Watling in awe for his role in the unbeaten 365-run stand with Williamson during the second test win against Sri Lanka. The wicketkeeper-batsman has racked up two world record partnerships for the sixth-wicket within 12 months. The other was his 352 with McCullum against India in February.

"It's amazing what B-J's done in two visits to the Basin, backing up his two mates. It's hard to put into words other than 'total admiration'."

The former national captain went on to suggest New Zealand's 2015 vintage of players can win the World Cup "with a bit of luck" and picked them to be in a final with South Africa, who he described as "due".

"I have been thoroughly impressed, probably since the first day of last summer when Ross and Brendon got hundreds [against the West Indies]. They've led the team well. The amount of big centuries being scored at the moment is testament to the quality they have [in the team]. The selections have been consistent and that must give every player a lot of faith and encouragement. [The success] is not unexpected because these performances have been going for a while now.

"I think they'll have their 15 sewn up [for the World Cup squad announced tomorrow]. That's testament to players cementing their selections with performance.

"Six months ago I said I'd go for a young Matt Henry over an older Kyle Mills, but I think Kyle deserves to be there. That's the only toss up I can see. It'll also be a hard choice between Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum as to who plays [in the first XI] because Nathan is a fine all-round cricketer.

Crowe commended the selectors for keeping an open mind to different scenarios, notably the move to place Brendon McCullum at the top of the order.

"The decision on who opens the batting at the World Cup is an incredibly important one. No one else has stood to take the role post-Jesse [Ryder], so Brendon's become the go-to guy."


Crowe reflected on his recent mentoring of McCullum's likely opening partner Martin Guptill, whose form has bloomed in the Ford Trophy with two centuries and a 55 in his last four innings.

"I'm encouraged by the way he's going. He looks fit and in good form. He'll be the perfect foil for Brendon at the top."

Crowe suggested a key quality to winning the World Cup was fearlessness.
One way of doing that when he led the New Zealand to their 1992 semi-final against Pakistan was to refer to teams by colour rather than ranking to cancel out variables such as form and reputation.

"We've seen the quality and skill this team possesses and I think Brendon will be a very good decision-maker capable of keeping them grounded from one game to another. The fielding has to be top notch and that's coming right, because the best fielding team will win the World Cup.

"It's hard to compare eras but if these guys continue to chalk up hundreds they're more than doing their job and will inspire their teammates and a new generation with this World Cup."