Williamson sets Yorkshire target

KANE WILLIAMSON is confident he can end a frustrating wait for his maiden century in Yorkshire colours when he returns to the club in early July.

Yorkshire's Kane Williamson.

Williamson flies to the West Indies today to join his New Zealand team-mates for a six-week tour.

He will miss eight NatWest T20 Blast matches and five County Championship games while the Australian batsman Aaron Finch stands in. Williamson has not hit a hundred in 19 innings for Yorkshire but is determined to put that right when he returns to Headingley on July 8.

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“I’m still looking for that big score and I’d like to think I can get a few hundreds when I come back,” said Williamson, who was speaking after rain prevented play on the final day of the drawn Championship Roses match at Headingley.

“I want to get some big hundreds – or even bigger than a hundred – and contribute some really sizeable innings.

“The fact I haven’t had a century yet is not something that’s playing on my mind, although obviously you want to score as many runs as you can and you always want more.

“I think I just have to relax because you often find that if you don’t try too hard these big scores can come along, and I just need to keep working hard and grooving my game.”

Williamson, 23, has not wanted for sizeable scores in his burgeoning career.

He has struck five Test centuries and 14 overall in first-class cricket, with a highest of 284 not out for Northern Districts against Wellington in 2011, along with seven in List A competition.

He has also scored runs consistently for Yorkshire.

Williamson has hit eight half-centuries with a top score of 97 against Durham at Scarborough last August, a figure he equalled against the same opponents at Chester-le-Street earlier this month.

“It’s nice to have contributed to a side that’s going places,” said Williamson, who averages 43.28 in this season’s Championship.

“I’ve been steady so far, but the most important thing is that the team is growing and moving forward.

“There is a lot of depth to the Yorkshire side, a great balance, while Aaron Finch is a fantastic player whom I’m sure will do well in the next few weeks.

“I’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on how we’re getting on while I’m out in the West Indies and hopefully we can get a few more victories under our belts.”

Yorkshire will have to perform better than they did against Lancashire if they are to maintain their title challenge.

They remain well-placed near the top of the table but Williamson believes they are still striving to find the perfect performance.

“We’ve yet to perhaps quite put that full performance together,” he said.

“The innings win over Warwickshire recently was very good, but we’re still looking to improve.

“The Championship race is very tight and there’s so much cricket left that it’s one where you almost don’t want to think about it too much until the business end, which is probably two or three games out.

“We just want to play aggressively and try to win each game, playing a positive and free brand of cricket.”

Williamson’s comments were echoed by Jason Gillespie, the Yorkshire first team coach, who said his side did not perform to their optimum against Lancashire.

After conceding 325, Yorkshire were dismissed for 243 before the game ended with Lancashire 48-3 in their second innings, a lead of 130.

“It wasn’t our best performance to be honest,” said Gillespie.

“We weren’t at our best with the ball and our discipline with our line and length wasn’t quite there.

“Batting-wise, we speak about being ruthless but we gifted a few wickets and there was a little bit of carelessness there.

“There is a bit to work on and it just didn’t quite click this game.”

Yorkshire return to action tomorrow against Derbyshire in the T20 Blast at Headingley – a game that will see Finch debut – and are back on Championship duty on Saturday against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

Ryan Sidebottom, the 36-year-old left-arm pace bowler, will miss both games after injuring his left hamstring during the Roses match.

Sidebottom was due to have a scan yesterday but Gillespie said: “It’s not a long-term injury by any stretch and we’re hopeful he’ll be back sooner rather than later.”

Gillespie confirmed pace bowler Steve Patterson is set to return at Wantage Road where Finch will likely bat in the middle-order.

“If someone does a hamstring properly, they’re normally out for four weeks, but we’re certainly not anticipating anything near that with Ryan,” he said. “He’ll travel with us to Northampton and receive treatment there. We’re confident he’ll be back in the not-too-distant future.”

Finch will play for MCC against the Rest of the World at Lord’s on July 5.