Kane Williamson called New Zealand’s ‘greatest’ after reeling off record hundred against England
Kane Williamson called New Zealand’s ‘greatest’ after reeling off record hundred against England
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.
Riz Rehman is the man with a plan to ensure Premier League passion is Muslim-friendly
- Mohamed Salah's record-breaking season has focused attention on the Premier League's Muslim players and fans.
- Past three players to win Player of the Year have all been Muslim.
LONDON: The face of English football has changed unimaginably since the start of the Premier League in 1992 — not least in terms of the number of Muslim footballers plying their trade in the most popular league in the world.
Twenty-six years ago, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nayim was the league’s only practicing Muslim. Fast forward to 2018 and there are now more than 40 Muslim players gracing England’s top flight — many of them global stars such as Mohamed Salah, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.
This is a hugely welcome development for the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and its education adviser, Riz Rehman, who is himself a Muslim.
Rehman’s role involves him supporting players of different backgrounds — including Muslims — and aiming to boost their participation in football. Little wonder, then, that he is delighted that the past three winners of the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award were all Muslim — Salah, Kante and Riyad Mahrez.
“It’s great for the Muslim community — young people, players, aspiring players and coaches — that three Muslims have won this award and that two of them (Salah and Mahrez) are Arabs,” Rehman told Arab News.
“It’s very important because it’s created more awareness about Muslims being good at the game and sport in general. It’s important we highlight this.”
Leading Muslim footballers’ soaring success and stardom have coincided with rising Islamaphobic attacks in Britain following the Brexit vote in 2016. Regressive attitudes toward race, religion and immigration have raged in some parts of the country, as Rehman acknowledged.
“The biggest misconceptions are that Muslims are all terrorists or that they are all Asian and have long beards,” he said. “Isolated incidents are giving Muslims a bad name.”
Mercifully for Rehman and the PFA, the likes of Salah and Kante are portraying Muslims in a far more positive — and realistic — light on and off the pitch.
During his sublime 2017-18 season, Liverpool star Salah topped the Premier League goal-scoring charts with 32 goals and reached the Champions League final. His unstinting brilliance led to him being serenaded with his own song by Liverpool fans, which includes the line: “If he scores another few, then I’ll be a Muslim too.”
Mohamed Salah has created a positive image of Muslims during his record-breaking year in the Premier League.
Many social media posts and videos showing young supporters copying the Egyptian maestro’s overtly religious goal celebration have also been posted many times. This involves him performing sujood, the Islamic art of prostration.
“Things like that are really helping to bring down barriers in the game,” Rehman said.
Likewise, he cites the fact that Salah and his Liverpool teammate, Sadio Mane, visit a mosque every week after training for Jumu’ah, the Friday prayer.
Meanwhile, only last Saturday the humbleness of Chelsea’s irrepressible midfielder Kante — who has two Premier League winners’ medals and one FA Cup success to his name — was widely hailed.
After missing his Eurostar train to Paris, Kante — who achieved World Cup glory with France in July — was invited home for dinner by Arsenal fan Badlur Rahman Jalil after meeting him while praying at a London mosque. Remarkably, Kante duly obliged and spent the evening watching Match of the Day and playing the FIFA video game with Jalil and his friends.
“People are more aware that we have Muslim players in the game,” Rehman said. “Players are not afraid to come out and embrace the fact that they are Muslims and showing the world that they’re good people.”
But are the PFA — and clubs in the Premier League and England in general — doing enough to increase Muslim representation in English football?
“I think things are better than ever. A lot of clubs are working hard on all-inclusive programs,” replied Rehman, who was a promising youth-team player at Brentford before injury cut short his career at the age of 17 in 2000.
“We deliver workshops aimed at club staff to educate them about better engaging Muslim communities. We get staff and coaches together and tell them more about Islam, what it involves and discuss Ramadan and how it might affect performance and participation at all levels.
“On the back of that, hopefully clubs will deliver programs around the needs of the community. There are clubs like Crystal Palace who are looking to deliver Asian-specific programs to get more Asian kids playing football, more Asian coaches and look at the Muslim community as well.”
Rehman himself helped organized an Iftar event at League One outfit Portsmouth earlier this year, which “went really well.”
“We also had players come along to support the day. Clubs such as Crystal Palace, Leicester City and a few others are showing an interest in holding similar events next season.
“Leicester City are a club with a massive Asian community and we are supporting them with trying to set up some programs.”
Also high on Rehman’s agenda is encouraging more BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) coaches into the game. As well as sitting on the advisory group for the Premier Leagues Elite Coach Apprenticeship Scheme, one key program he is involved in is “Sidelined-to-Sidelines.”
N'Golo Kante has been one of the best players in England's top-flight since he moved to the Premier League three years ago.
This was established by the Zesh Rehman Foundation — which was set up by his brother, a former Fulham defender — to address a shortage of qualified South Asian coaches.
“We are setting up sessions to try and recruit young coaches at clubs like Crystal Palace, QPR and Chelsea,” Rehman revealed. “Coaches wearing those club badges become role models and are able to influence their own communities and encourage more kids (from under-represented ethnicities) to take up the game.”
Rehman is keen to recruit more Muslim “ambassadors” at clubs “up and down the country” to emulate the likes of the inspirational Salah.
“We want them to work with the community, local groups, mosques, and get players to actually go into those communities and build links with the clubs. It’s a two-way thing.”
Progress has also been made in attracting more Muslim supporters to Premier League matches, Rehman added. Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion are among the clubs that have multi-faith prayer rooms to cater for their increasingly diverse fanbases, he said.
“Some clubs sell halal food, too, so there’s something for everyone.
“It’s a worldwide game now. Mo Salah has reached out to a lot of people. I think Muslim communities themselves have to make an effort to go to matches.
“It’s not an overnight success, but you do see different communities represented on match days, week in and week out.”