Williamson, an impossibly nice bloke

Williamson, an impossibly nice bloke

WINNING HEARTS: New Zealand captain Kane Williamson (left) appears dejected during the presentation ceremony on Sunday. Reuters

It is hard to swallow a defeat as big as the World Cup final, when you haven’t actually lost the battle. And it must be even harder to come to press conference almost immediately and try and make sense of what happened in the course of those crazy last 30 minutes.

Who is to be blamed for the heart-breaking loss? The “mindless” boundary countback rule to break the deadlock after the Super Over ended in a tie? The overthrown four that inadvertently deflected off a diving Ben Stokes’ bat? The two on-field umpires who wrongly awarded an extra run to England off that overthrown ball? But for that extra run that England never legitimately scored, New Zealand would have won their maiden World Cup.

A storm of thoughts must have been milling in Williamson’s head. So gutted was he that he would have loved to be left alone, and not sit in front of 100 journalists who reminded him at every possible instance the heart-breaking defeat with probing questions attached. It’s easy to snap at such queries, dismiss them as meaningless. Or, in the worst case scenario, get carried away in the spur of that volatile moment and end up making remarks that you may have to regret later.

Williamson was asked repeatedly to get him say something adverse against boundary countback rule or lament that overthrow four that went off Stokes’ bat. The Kiwi skipper not once showed any sign of falling for the bait. He remained dignified in the face of immense disappointment. He didn’t blame anyone/anything. Occasionally, he weighed the words he was going to utter. Paused for a moment or two but he wasn’t going to discredit England’s win. Heck, he didn’t even put it down to luck. Williamson is an impossibly nice bloke.

“Obviously, just gutted,” said Williamson while summing up his emotions. “You know, the guys put in a huge amount of work to get this opportunity, to come here and play in another World Cup final and to pretty much do all you could and still not perhaps get across the line with some small margins and I think throughout this whole campaign in a lot of my press conferences I have spoken about 'uncontrollables' and there were a couple today that were pretty hard to swallow.

“Once again, take nothing away from England's campaign, not just this match, but throughout, all the cricket they have played, they are deserving winners. Well either side walking away with the title today probably feels fortunate having it go down to a tie after regular time and then I think another one, wasn't it, after six more balls? So, yeah, one of those things.”  

The player of the tournament award was hardly a consolation for the genial Kiwi but he was not going to say anything against boundary countback even after several attempts to get him to say so.   

“I suppose you never thought you would have to ask that question and I never thought I would have to answer it,” he said smiling. “Yeah, while the emotions are raw it is pretty hard to swallow when two teams have worked really, really hard to get to this moment in time and when sort of two attempts to separate them with a winner and a loser it still doesn't perhaps sort of shine with one side coming through, you know. It is what it is, really. The rules are there at the start.

No-one probably thought they would have to sort of result to some of that stuff. But yeah, very tough to swallow. A great game of cricket and all you guys probably enjoyed it. As to everyone else, I think they are still here, they want more (smiling). But we are looking forward to putting our feet up now and having a bit of a chat and reflect about our campaign.”

An Indian journalist stood up to ask his question out of respect for this special cricketer and as he left the conference arena, all the journalists stood up and applauded the man who lost the Cup but won over the World.