By Niall Anderson in Nottingham
"Absolutely shocking together, these two," exclaimed Brendon McCullum, as Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor survived a major runout scare in the Black Caps' World Cup win over Bangladesh.
"They're just dreadful when they run together," chipped in Mike Hesson, after it was deemed that Bangladesh wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim had knocked the bails off before the ball had arrived, gifting Williamson a significant let-off.
Surprisingly strong – and refreshingly honest - comments considering McCullum and Hesson's long relationships with the players involved, and comments seemingly backed by evidence, especially when the duo barely avoided another run-out when Williamson was saved by an off-target Afghanistan throw in Taunton.
But, as the nerves of New Zealand cricket fans intensify and hands start to wring ahead of the big Cup clashes ahead, a question remained unanswered.
Are Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor actually that bad at running between the wickets?
It's fair to say Ross Taylor is not among the world's best practitioners at running between the wickets. The Black Caps veteran has been run out 29 times in his career, tied with Daniel Vettori and Stephen Fleming for the most by a New Zealander, and behind only Shoaib Malik among active players.
Some of that is purely to do with longevity – the more opportunities you have to bat, the more chances you have to be run out – but Taylor has racked up his fair share of mix-ups over the years.
Some of his most high-profile moments have often come in tandem with Williamson, which makes logical sense. The pair have shared the crease together for just under 10,000 balls across all formats – by far the most prolific partnership in New Zealand cricket history.
And a partnership which, in one-day international cricket, hasn't ended in a run-out in the last two years.
Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor's partnership has been vanquished via a run-out four times in ODIs.
That's four times in 63 partnerships, but cut it down even more and you get a statistic of four run-outs in 4092 balls – an average of one run-out every 1023 balls.
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It hardly sounds like a rate to be concerned about, but to put it in further context, it is prudent to compare the pairing to other experienced combinations.
In ODI history, only 14 partnerships have combined for more runs than Williamson and Taylor - and the Kiwi duo stack up well when it comes to running between the wickets.
Williamson and Taylor rank 10th out of the 15 most productive partnerships in ODI history, with several pairings being twice as frequent as the Kiwi duo in causing chaos at the crease.
So, what's with the perception?
Confirmation bias can be a curious thing in sport. Often when the general consensus is formed on a particular player, it can be hard to budge.
If you're inclined to believe a player is reckless, the logic follows that you'll be more likely to notice the reckless moments, and forget any disproving evidence; favouring information that confirms your previously existing beliefs.
That could partially be what is at play with Williamson and Taylor. If the general consensus is that the pair are poor together between the wickets, it is more likely to be noticed, and commented upon, than any running issues between, say, Taylor and Tom Latham. It also compounds upon the fact that Williamson and Taylor spend significantly more time at the crease than any other combination, so any foibles are more noticeable.
Test match analysis provides a similar story. Add their test record to the ODI statistics, and the pair have been run out seven times in 9337 balls – a rate of one run-out every 1334 balls, which still compares favourably to other great partnerships, even when taking into account the reduced rates of runouts in the test arena.
So, if the pair are not causing run-outs at a particularly noteworthy rate, why is it a hot button topic?
Perhaps it is a fallacy founded in the fact that New Zealand fans watching are simply more nervous with the pair at the crease; aware of how vital the two batsmen are to the Black Caps' chances of winning any game, and disappointed whenever they don't reach their usual high standards.
Consider it fan anxiety, but – at least in the ODI format – the nerves seem to be largely misplaced.
World Cup hysteria is nothing new – and some ardent viewers of the 2015 tournament might not be surprised to learn that Williamson isn't even Taylor's worst partner when it comes to ODI run-outs.
Come on down Martin Guptill, whose partnership with Taylor has been ended via run-out on five occasions – at an average of one run-out every 494 balls.
Three of those came during the 2015 World Cup, including, most famously, in the semifinal against South Africa.
"I got a couple away. I was on 30-odd and Ross has hit one straight to point and called me through," recalled Guptill in the Herald's oral history of the semifinal victory .
"We had about three run outs between us in that World Cup. We're usually pretty good together between the wickets. I'm putting them all down as his fault too," he grinned.
But, with Guptill and Taylor spending less time together as a partnership than Williamson and Taylor, there's little fretting about their reliability between the wickets.
Black Caps coach Gary Stead has heard the criticism.
He acknowledged that the Bangladesh drama was far from ideal, but was quick to downplay any concerns about the pair running wild.
Simply, Stead doesn't believe he needs to dish out much advice to try and stem any potential problems later down the World Cup road.
"Ross and Kane have played a lot of cricket together, and I know they've been talking about how they deal with it. I'm not sure me sticking my nose in there or doing anything different is actually going to help the situation. I think it's just them communicating well when they're in the middle."
Taylor, too, has no problems with communicating with his skipper out in the middle.
"It's part and parcel of cricket. I always do love batting with Kane."
There is, of course, still the very real chance that Williamson and Taylor are involved in another running shambles during the World Cup - but the statistics say it shouldn't be on top of New Zealand fans' list of Cup concerns.
Let's leave the last word for Stead, who – when quizzed about the issue after the Bangladesh game – provided an answer that all New Zealand cricket fans could surely agree on.
"I hope I don't see that again."