Leave his batting aside a moment; Kane Williamson has received a hefty dose of support for his growing leadership qualities from national coach Mike Hesson.

Hesson may not be a totally impartial commentator on his captain. But his praise is still unstinting on what he's seen from Williamson, the leader.

While there's no doubting Williamson's batting talents - officially world No 5 and coming off two centuries in the three-test series against South Africa - he's had to go through a learning process since taking over from Brendon McCullum last year.

He has captained New Zealand in 13 tests, for six wins, three draws and four losses; in ODIs, Williamson has overseen 18 wins out of 37 matches.


"Significantly," was Hesson's description of Williamson's progress in charge.

"He captained for 30-odd games before he took over full time. But it had been sporadic and it's pretty difficult to put your stamp on it when you're only coming in for one game here, two games there.

"It took Kane probably half a dozen games to put his stamp on it. From Christmas on I think he has been exceptional in all forms of the game in terms of his captaincy."

Hesson rates his reading of the game highly and can't fault his desire to try and get the best out of his players and figure out "what makes them tick".

Williamson has struck three test hundreds in his last six innings - 104 not out to carry New Zealand to victory over Bangladesh in Wellington, and 130 in Dunedin, followed by a terrific 176 in the season-ending draw, both against South Africa.

Williamson is steadfast in his desire to avoid talking about his own batting performances, so Hesson did it for him.

"The thing the team likes most about Kane is he's so selfless and I understand you might not get the quotes out of him talking about himself.

"But that's him. He doesn't do it for effect; he does it because that's what he cares about, trying to win games for his country. That's his priority and if he's able to achieve milestones along the way so be it.


"But it's certainly not something that drives him. What drives him is to try and win games for New Zealand."

His 176 put him level with Martin Crowe as scorer of the most test hundreds for New Zealand. But Williamson laid off discussing that achievement.

"Hogan (Crowe) is a very special player in our country, our best batsman and he's always set the benchmark, and will continue to, I believe.

"Personally they (milestones) aren't big focuses of mine.

"I certainly try to focus much more on what I need to do at the time and try and do it as long as I can, whether that's 100 or less or maybe more, you never know.

"But you're always trying to get a few more to help the side and that's the most pleasing thing for me in this match, not so much the number but where we're able to get a good first-innings total."


As captain, Williamson is averaging 59.94, with four centuries, vs 51.16, and 13 centuries in his entire career.

And as for that ranking, behind Australian captain Steve Smith, Indians Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli and England's Joe Root, that may drop in the coming months. New Zealand's next test assignment is not until November, against the West Indies.

Numbers, schnumbers. Be quite sure his players wouldn't swap him for any of those above him in the standings.