Lizaad Williams is a classic example of a fast bowler who has white-line fever.
And arguably all of the world’s greatest fast bowlers of the past two decades, including the South Africans Allan Donald, Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock and Dale Steyn, possessed that trait.
Almost sanguine off the park, with a love of joking and adding to the positive vibe in the change room, Williams is the opposite on the field.
He gets in a combative mood, and admits that in that respect he is a bit like Ben Stokes and Virat Kohli.
Williams, a World Sports Betting Cape Cobras’ fast bowler, likes Stokes, and says he enjoys the English all-rounder’s single-mindedness and his determination to be the enforcer.
He also told his team-mates after Carlos Brathwaite smashed four consecutive sixes off Stokes to send the West Indies to the World T20 title in 2016, that Stokes will resurrect his career.
“And that is true, because he is world-class now.”
But Williams added that the player he has idolized throughout his career is Andrew Flintoff. He wears the number 11 on his shirt like Flintoff, and enjoys Flintoff’s approach to cricket and his competitiveness.
“It is not that I want to model his action or want and try to be like him. I endeavour to be the best Lizaad Williams, but you can always learn small things from other bowlers. I am currently reading a book about Flintoff,” he adds.
Williams has steadily improved as a fast bowler the past season. Instead of just nipping it both ways off the seam, he has also swung the ball.
In training sessions, he has deliberately taken the old ball. “That is your ultimate test as a bowler. How do you perform with the old nut? I have to hit the right areas consistently, ask questions, probe and build pressure,” he says.
Williams bowls between 130 km/h and 140 km/h but he feels that he can bowl faster. Yet, that is not his greatest aim for the next season. He wants to maintain the right rhythm, understand his action and be consistent.
Asked to describe his role, Williams, a final-year BA student at the University of the Western Cape, says: “I guess I am a strike bowler. I want to be the bowler who changes the game by taking regular wickets in a six-to-seven-over opening spell. And then I want to continue to play a significant role with the old ball,” he added.
At the age of 23, Williams may be a work in progress, but many of his team-mates reflected on his new-found maturity the past season.
He has come of age. It was evident in the Momentum One Day Cup campaign in which he nipped out 10 batsmen in five games, while operating with that aggression and in-your-face-hostility that has made Stokes and Flintoff great.