To judge by an excellent track record for New Zealand and Gloucestershire, Kane Williamson is most certainly able and all set to help Yorkshire in their quest to win the Championship.
Williamson, a 23-year-old right-hand batsman, will make his White Rose debut in tomorrow’s game against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
Recruited for the final six weeks of the season, he is clear evidence of leaders Yorkshire’s determination to clinch the crown.
Having played classical and clinical four-day cricket, that prize is within deserved reach for a side 10 points clear with five games to go.
Williamson has the panache and pedigree to offset the untimely loss of Gary Ballance, absurdly whisked away for three England Lions’ matches this week against Bangladesh A, and who could well be wanted for the five-match one-day international series against Australia that runs from September 6-16.
Yorkshire, who have performed remarkably well without an overseas player so far, looked a batsman light when injuries to Phil Jaques and Joe Sayers deprived them of options against Warwickshire.
Williamson’s signing increases those options, with him fired up to help Yorkshire apply the coup de grace to their 150th anniversary campaign.
“Yorkshire are going really well at the moment and, hopefully, I can slide into the team and contribute in some ways to help continue that momentum,” said Williamson. “I’m really looking forward to it and very excited to have joined a club like Yorkshire.
“There is going to be pressure to perform and I guess there is pressure on everyone when you come to the final end of the competition when the team is going well.
“It would be brilliant for us all to get our hands on a Championship winner’s medal, but we know there is a lot of hard work ahead of us before that can happen.”
Williamson has considerable experience for one so young, having played 25 Tests and 45 one-day internationals, as well as valuable knowledge of English conditions gained with Gloucestershire.
Williamson represented Gloucestershire in 2011 and 2012, scoring 2,045 runs in all competitions, and he struck 111 against Yorkshire at Bristol last summer.
Although Williamson has signed with the short-term objective of helping Yorkshire win the title, there is a chance the relationship could be extended.
If Yorkshire are in a position to sign an overseas batsman next year, and if Williamson is available, the player has no better opportunity to put himself in the shop window.
“There’s a potential opportunity but I guess you cross those bridges when they are nearer to potentially eventuating,” said Williamson. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens but my focus now is on these last five Championship games and helping the team as best I can.
“I’m just really looking forward to playing some cricket again. The last cricket I played was the Champions Trophy a couple of months back, so it’s nice to be back in the swing of it again.”
Yorkshire first-team coach Jason Gillespie said he was delighted to have Williamson on board for the key Championship run-in.
Yorkshire finish off with fixtures against Durham at Scarborough (August 28-31), Sussex at Hove (September 11-14), Middlesex at Headingley (September 17-20) and Surrey at The Oval (September 24-27).
“I’m really pleased that Kane has joined us,” said Gillespie. “He’s a player of proven quality and international experience, and he did very well during his time at Gloucestershire – not least when he hit a hundred against us on a wicket that was giving help to the bowlers.
“With the absence of our Test stars and with Gary Ballance away with the Lions this week, we saw this as a great opportunity to strengthen our batting.
“Even with the club’s finances as they are, you still look around and keep an eye on who’s available on the off-chance that there’s an opportunity, and this was a great opportunity for us.”
Gillespie confirmed Yorkshire would potentially be interested in signing Williamson for a longer period, finances permitting.
Yorkshire are managing a debt circa £20m, while the lure of global Twenty20 leagues and the crowded international fixture list make it increasingly hard for counties to recruit overseas stars.
“It’s certainly something that would interest us,” said Gillespie. “It’s something we’ll discuss at the end of the season, and I’m sure that Martyn Moxon (Yorkshire’s director of cricket) will be speaking to the finance department.
“If it’s something we can explore, I think we certainly will. I’m a big one on having continuity if possible – ideally you don’t want to be chopping and changing personnel around too much – and I think that’s been quite a strength of ours in the Championship.”
Jaques hopes to return at Trent Bridge, having not played since the Championship game against Derbyshire in mid-July.
The Australian left-hander tore a muscle under his rib while compiling 139, his highest score of the summer.
Kane Williamson Factfile
Born: August 8, 1990
Birthplace: Tauranga, New Zealand
Major teams: New Zealand, Gloucs, Northern Districts
Role: Right-hand batsman, off-spin bowler
Test record: Matches 25, innings 46, not outs 2, runs 1,385, avg 31.47, highest score 135, 100s 3, 50s 8; wkts 20, avg 32.95, best bowling 4-44; catches 17
One-day international record: M 45, inns 41, NO 6, runs 1,267, avg 36.20, HS 145*, 100s 3, 50s 6; wkts 17, avg 32.94, best 4-22; catches 13
First-class record: M 69, Inns 121, NO 6, runs 4,646, avg 40.40, HS 284*, 100s 12, 50s 21; wkts 65, avg 40.21, best bowling 5-75; catches 61
List A record: M 90, inns 84, NO 14, runs 2,961, avg 42.30, HS 145*, 100s 7, 50s 16; wkts 42, avg 36.26, best 5-51; catches 33.