New Zealand have never won a Cricket World Cup since the tournament's 1975 inception. Kane Williamson can lead his Black Caps across that threshold tomorrow night against England at Lord's. Andrew Alderson looks at what makes this unassuming maestro tick.
Forget the statistics, forget the greatest-of-all-time debates and forget the hype.
This image sums up Kane Stuart Williamson's cricketing motives.
The clenched fists - the same ones which could raise the World Cup on Monday morning at Lord's - are significant. Martin Guptill has thrown down one stump from square leg to run out legendary Indian chaser MS Dhoni in the semifinal at Old Trafford. His laser arm has effectively guaranteed New Zealand a place in the final with 24 runs required off nine balls … and tailenders at the crease.
Williamson's rare dropping of his guard offers a glimpse into the passion behind his usually diplomatic countenance as New Zealand captain. He exudes his customary determination and concentration in other pictures from the game: walking down the stairs for the anthems, raising his bat reluctantly after reaching 50 knowing a ton of work's ahead, and holding his nerve as he cups a steepler from the blazing bat of Ravindra Jadeja at deep mid-off.
Williamson tends to avoid getting too high or too low in his emotions: he prefers hitting the ball in the middle of the bat, sitting in the centre of the team bus and fitting into the heart of the team culture.
Williamson wants to play cricket in teams with an indomitable spirit: All for one, one for all. Nothing venture, nothing win.
Williamson knows he can guide his side to a maiden World Cup victory against the hosts at Lord's: tomorrow night could provide the proof.
If Kane Williamson's side win the World Cup, it will add another extraordinary chapter to a career which appears to have no ceiling.
Often great batsmen have a story which differentiates them from weekend woggers.
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 knocked around a golf ball in a sock with his bat edge in Mumbai.
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What did The Kane do in Tauranga?
"There was a cricket ball in a sock in the carport," Williamson told the Herald in January 2016.
"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, Williamson was more interested in doing, rather than conjuring up any theatre about his actions.
Like most cricket fans, he had his favourite players. Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis were in the top order, 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.
Then and now, Williamson bases his batting more on pragmatism and adaptation than being a stickler for technique and orthodoxy.
"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."
Williamson has been a revelation for many at this tournament with a series of match-winning innings and a flourishing captaincy marked by his lack of panic under pressure. That ethos has seeped like osmosis through the team to a point where they have won their four tightest duels, against Bangladesh, South Africa, the West Indies and India.
The latter match, the semifinal, might be where the 28-year-old's experience shone most. Williamson's encyclopedic knowledge of English conditions came to the fore, having played some form of top level cricket in the country every year since 2011 with Gloucestershire, Yorkshire or as part of New Zealand tours. Such muscle memory has brought him the tournament's current top average - 91.33 from eight innings.
His 67 against India came after entering in the fourth over with New Zealand 1-1 and having endured 17 dot balls to start. Williamson's knock highlighted a difference which distinguishes him from most batsmen. He could choose "judging pitches" – or "surfaces" as he prefers to call them - as his Mastermind topic.
He baulked on the Old Trafford deck at times, and shot quizzical looks at no one in particular as he gauged what the ball was doing. Then the shots around the clock began: the late cut with surgeon's hands, the working of the ball off the back foot into the legside; the checked drives weaved to make sure short cover doesn't get fed. Soon the repertoire expanded as he cut under his eyes, swivel pulled with rolled wrists, and played fluently through the offside.
Arguably the match's real highlight came with his evolving captaincy. Williamson tends to be more of a methodical banker to Brendon McCullum's streetwise gambler but don't misinterpret that for a lack of nous. India was placed under pressure as homework on their top three tournament run-scorers Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul paid dividends. Their consecutive scores of 1-1-1 hinted at an emergency.
Trent Boult and Matt Henry were employed for extra overs in their opening spells, rattling India to 35 for four after 12 overs. Williamson seldom loosened the vice, even when Dhoni and Jadeja put on 116 for the seventh wicket. Inclusivity remained his watchword, consulting the experience of Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Trent Boult and sub-fielder Tim Southee as required.
In his mid-tournament report card, the skipper backed adaptability over aggression as the catalyst to World Cup glory. England represent the opposite end of that spectrum, at least with the bat. The final will test those polarised mindsets. New Zealand, for instance, can claim to have made the final without posting one score in excess of 300 from three attempts setting and one chasing.
Behind Williamson's iridescent sunglasses, zinced lips and coiffed beard lies a cricketing mind driven as much by empathy for teammates as winning at all costs. He is forging New Zealand's reputation in his own selfless image. They are authentic and in contention for limited overs cricket's ultimate prize.
As the Herald noted before the semifinal: Yes we Kane.