Williamson posts 18th century in 1st test against England


—Radio New Zealand

AUCKLAND: Captain Kane Williamson scored a New Zealand-record 18th test century as New Zealand tightened its advantage in the first cricket test against England on a rain-affected second day Friday.

Williamson previously shared with Martin Crowe and his current test teammate Ross Taylor the New Zealand record of 17 test centuries. Between heavy showers on Friday, Williamson added 11 runs to his overnight score of 91, reaching his century in 297 minutes, from 196 balls with 11 fours and a six.

He was finally out for 102, trapped lbw by James Anderson in the fourth over of the second new ball, but his 83-run partnership with Henry Nicholls placed New Zealand in control of its first-ever day-night test at home.

Nicholls was 49 not out, wicketkeeper B.J. Watling was 17 and New Zealand was 229-4 when heavy rain stopped play in the second session on a day in which only 23 overs were bowled and 54 runs scored. It was enough to allow New Zealand to build a lead of 171 runs and to take charge of a match in which further rain interruptions are likely.

Although the rain abated late in the evening, the umpires called off play at 9 p.m. ? the time of scheduled stumps ? because of a damp outfield.

Williamson demonstrated his immense talent and the great promise of his relatively young test career when he achieved his 18th century at 27 years of age and in his 64th test.

Crowe, who died of cancer in 2016 aged 53, played 77 tests and Taylor, aged 34, has played 84. Williamson was averaging 50.51 before this match and is now being hailed as New Zealand’s best-ever test batsman.

Former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming tweeted “Williamson’s century an emotional milestone for us Black Caps fans but one feels just a stepping stone for our greatest.”

England was dismissed for 58 in its first innings Thursday, its sixth-lowest score in tests and lowest against New Zealand. Trent Boult took a career-best 6-32 and Tim Southee took 4-25 as New Zealand bowled out England in 20.4 overs and only 95 minutes.

Williamson’s century was the only event of note on a day soured by rain. The first shower chased players from the field only 40 minutes after the start and Williamson had already achieved his milestone.

He went from 91 to 95 with a boundary, took two, then approached the historic mark with singles, reaching it with a trademark dab to third man off Anderson.

His innings hardened New Zealand’s hold on the match which already significant when it bowled out England so cheaply on the first day.

Williamson first put on 84 for the second wicket with Tom Latham (26) and after Taylor (20) was out, combined with Nicholls in a partnership which importantly survived the late and floodlit stages of the first day when the pink ball was expected to swing.

The England bowlers were less able than Boult and Southee to move the ball in the air and the pitch, which was well-grassed at the start, offered little movement from the seam. —AP