By Niall Anderson in Sydney

Kane Williamson is currently in the midst of his worst batting run since one of New Zealand cricket's darkest days - and that's not the only place where he's under pressure.

Williamson has made just 57 runs in the first two tests of the Black Caps' Australian tour – his worst return over a four-innings stretch since the disastrous tour of South Africa in January 2013, where New Zealand were infamously rolled for 45 on their way to two heavy defeats.

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On the surface, Williamson's mini-slump contains little reason for concern, given the miniscule sample size, tough conditions, fantastic opposition and arguable bad luck.

However, had Joe Denly not committed one of the worst drops in the history of cricket when Williamson was on 62 against England in Hamilton, Williamson would be averaging just 19.8 in his last 10 innings, and his captaincy is coming under closer scrutiny as well.

Williamson's decision-making in the field has been criticised during the lengthy spells the Black Caps have been forced to spend in the scorching sun – including criticism from former skipper Brendon McCullum, who suggested he wasn't enjoying being captain as much as he had in the past.

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Neither Williamson nor coach Gary Stead would be drawn on whether Williamson's captaincy in all formats was too high a workload - Williamson did acknowledge it was "a challenge" - but Stead had no doubts that his skipper would soon return to his best.

"It's not just Kane; many of our players have had a pretty tough time over here. The dismissal [in the second innings], it was pretty unlucky I thought, on another day he carries on and he could have got a hundred – it changes that quickly. Kane's fine, like all players you go through ups and downs at times, this is obviously a challenging part of his career."

Kane Williamson has struggled with the bat in Australia. Photo / Photosport
Kane Williamson has struggled with the bat in Australia. Photo / Photosport

Williamson was philosophical about his recent struggles.

"In cricket, you do have to deal with failure a lot, it happens to everybody.

"You might get some good balls or some things that don't quite go your way and you've got to accept that and move on. Despite wanting the results immediately, it's so much more about trying to get better to then achieve some of those results.


"From a personal perspective, wanting more is not an uncommon thing for anybody and certainly not for me, I'm always trying to improve, and wanting to contribute to the team as well as I can, and with as many runs as I can. In the role that you have - whether it's in the field as captain, or with the bat - that focus is there, the training will be put in."

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson has come under fire in the field. Photo / Photosport
Black Caps captain Kane Williamson has come under fire in the field. Photo / Photosport

Australian captain Tim Paine was ecstatic at how his side had put Williamson under pressure so far this series, but knows they'll have to maintain that effort in the third test in Sydney.

"I know every time he walks out to bat we're desperately trying to get him out, we think he's one of the best batsmen in the world, his record shows that. We're bowling really well to him at the moment, and we're making them bowl a lot of overs, we're making him make a lot of decisions as a captain in the field, and that's what we want to do - we want to wear opposition players down, particularly their best player and captain.

"The more pressure we can keep putting on him, the better off we're going to be. But we know every time he comes out he's a very hard man to get out."