The Gray-Nicholls blade and the cadence of the shots was enough to identify who was batting.

Kane Williamson was back cracking red leather into the white netting at Lord's HQ after his foray into the Indian Premier League.

Watching the New Zealand No.3 bat can be a panacea. The equivalent to sitting down with a bowl of popcorn in front of Die Hard on Christmas Eve, or placing a tablespoon of loose tea leaves in a pot with boiling water after a stressful day's work.

The ball generally reverberates sweetly off the bat, almost as regularly as Bruce Willis' John McClane defeats the terrorists in the Nakatomi Plaza building or that it's best to brew the tea about four minutes for the perfect cuppa with a thimbleful of milk.


Regardless, Williamson's methodical approach is formidable and the arms of new bowling coach Dmitri Mascarenhas and fitness trainer Chris Donaldson knew all about it.

They approached the crease relentlessly with pasta ladles raised, ready to fling another red missile.

Donaldson possessed that toiler-look perfected by Ewen Chatfield in the 1980s. He returned to the top of his six-pace mark looking tired but resilient. He sampled a solitary success with an edge to first slip at least half an hour after these eyes arrived at Lord's HQ. Williamson didn't play a slog throughout.

Mascarenhas focused short balls at Williamson's hip seeking weakness; Williamson was sound. Mascarenhas then delivered balls moving from middle-and-leg to off stump, tweaking the ball position in the thrower clasp as he went. Williamson checked his alignment and engaged in the odd discussion to see he was meeting expectations.

Order and structure seem important to Williamson. You envisage his hotel room being more library than pig sty. He doesn't seem the sort of roommate for whom you'd have to mark out a demarcation line in duct tape.

The bat swivels like a wand before tapping the ground up to four times before each delivery and his shot decision. He does not flinch at any point, although there appear to be a dearth of bouncers. Mascarenhas drops one in midway through. It's rarity is noted.

The practice is important for Williamson. This England series shapes as a pivotal challenge, especially seeing New Zealand has won just two series here in 1986 and 1999.
Last time at Lord's, Williamson made 60 from 167 balls in the first innings after entering at the end of the first over. Anderson eventually coaxed him into edging down the legside. In the second, he was out for six to leave New Zealand 21 for four, 15 minutes before lunch on the final day. They were all out for 68.

Dismiss Williamson cheaply at No 3 and England will sense vulnerability in the New Zealand order, regardless of whether it's true on their seaming wickets. Stuart Broad and James Anderson are likely to threaten more at Lord's and, four days later, Headingley, than they were when lathered on bitumen at Wellington during the World Cup.


Williamson's experience in English conditions will come to the fore. He has featured in four English first-class seasons - two each with Gloucestershire and Yorkshire. He's signed for a fifth, again with Yorkshire, who he helped to last year's county championship. In the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Williamson scored 1197 runs at 39.9 for Gloucestershire in the second division. In 2013 and 2014, he signed with Yorkshire in the first division and made 1032 runs at 54.32.

On the evidence of today's session, Williamson is recalibrating with zeal into the test game, despite just two T20 IPL innings since the World Cup. New Zealand need him to reignite his skills, especially with a green Lord's wicket unveiled in the early stages of preparation under rainy London skies.