The upcoming 2-Test series between India and New Zealand couldn’t have arrived at an interesting time for the two respective captains – Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson. While Virat Kohli is leading a team that is currently ranked No.1 in the world and also in the World Test Championship points table, Williamson’s side are trying to leave overcome the disappointment of a recent 3-0 thrashing in Australia. With both India and New Zealand expected to slug it out in whites over the next fortnight or so, Kohli and Williamson will need to be at the top of their captaincy game in order to win the series.
As far as captaincy styles are concerned, there could not be 2 more different captains in the world than Kohli and Williamson. The India captain’s in-your-face leadership style lies in stark contrast to his Kiwi counterpart’s ice-cool attitude while marshalling his troops on the field.
Virat Kohli’s captaincy, like his batting, is instinctive, though it has evolved over his 6 years of tenure. He is always looking to leave an impact on the game and expects the same standards from his teammates too. Punching the air, covering his face after missed chances or shouting at his bowlers after a full-toss, Kohli goes through all these emotions while leading on the field.
Doesn’t matter when you start following a match involving Kohli but a cursory look at his face at any point during the game is sure to provide you with a decent idea of how it is poised. Kohli’s incessant craving for fitness has made the current Indian team arguably the fittest in their history. But there is also a flip-side to all this aggression.
A captain is best judged by his demeanour when things around him are falling apart. This is where Kohli has been found out at times in the past. Be it the 2017 Champions Trophy mauling at the hands of Pakistan or Sam Curran’s multiple rearguards on the 2018 England tour, Kohli as captain has been found wanting when the times have been desperate. After all, there is a limit to what aggression can achieve on its own. And that’s where Kane Williamson scores above his Indian counterpart.
Williamson is truly the cricket lover’s delight. If Spirit of Cricket was a person, it is hard to imagine it resembling anyone else in the modern game than the New Zealand captain. If his stoicism after the heartbreaking loss in the 2019 World Cup final melted the iciest of hearts, Williamson’s in-person ‘thank you’ to the Kiwi fans after a painful Test series loss in Melbourne last year spoke volumes about his composed nature.
Crowd-pleasing aside, Williamson has continued to honour the ‘humble and hardworking’ mantra of his predecessor Brendon McCullum while taking it to another level. Williamson’s success as a good Test captain lies in the fact that he has been able to walk the fine line between his team being perceived as the ‘nice guys’ and a really good Test side.
Under Williamson, New Zealand have been a tough side to beat at home, losing just a single Test in his more than 4 years captaincy tenure. Away from home, New Zealand have consistently been punching above their weight with the historic 2-1 series win in UAE vs Pakistan in 2018 being the team’s zenith so far under Williamson. Since then, New Zealand have also managed to draw a Test series in Sri Lanka but the 3-0 loss in Australia must be surely hurting the Kiwis.