IPL 2022 – New Zealand
New Zealand and SRH captain says surgey is “an absolute last resort” on his troublesome elbow
Although no timeframe has been set for his return to competitive cricket, Williamson is cautiously optimistic of recovering in time at some point during the white-ball series against Netherlands in March-April, which could precede IPL 2022.
“All the conversations, certainly with New Zealand cricket and Sunrisers who are aware of this…I’ve had it [elbow injury] for a long time now, so this period of time is to try and get it right. I guess the timing of this period is sort of dictated by injury,” Williamson said. “It is progressing, which is a good thing, and there’s still quite a bit of time between now and then, or now and some of the Netherlands games perhaps. There’s nothing definite, but it is progressing. So I’m hopeful that I’ll be back on the field as soon as possible.
“Last [IPL] season was an example as well, where I wasn’t involved initially and it was elbow-related as well. The franchise was great and supportive of it. I’m optimistic that it will continue to improve. The [T20] format, in particular, is slightly more friendly to managing the load. So, we will wait and see, but it is taking steps forward, which is positive.”
Williamson expressed it frustration at the lengthy injury layoff but pointed out that undergoing surgery would be the “last resort”. Head coach Gary Stead had echoed Williamson’s reviews recently, saying surgery was unlikely.
“Cutting it off – thought about it a few times,” Williamson said. “From what I can gather and certainly talking to the professionals is that it doesn’t promise; it’s sort of an absolute last resort and after, if there’s a real requirement of rehab and specific loading because it sort of doesn’t promise… This [rehab] is without a doubt the more preferred option at this point of time and hopefully the one that works and gets rid of it. It is tracking in the right direction.”
Williamson said that he had originally planned to return to action for the Test series at home against South Africa, which begins from February 17, but the slow recovery has delayed his comeback.
“I think it’s progressing. It has been very slow,” he said. “It has been frustrating, but certainly putting in the time and effort into the rehab and a very gradual loading sort of a batting schedule as well because clearly in the last sort of a year and a bit, I have tried to learn as much as I can about it. And it has been a very frustrating time really – one of the more frustrating periods in my career where it’s essentially not something that’s broken but something that’s more disruptive than anything to my body.
“In my mind without a doubt, the South African series was something that I was targeting despite the medical team not being as optimistic, but I sort of felt things could progress quickly. Everyone seems to have a different story with this sort of injury, so I was certainly hopeful but it is not to be. It was a tough pill to be honest because missing any game – certainly Test cricket for me are the ones that you never want to miss.”
“[I spoke to] a number of different people with different thoughts and ways to get rid of it,” he said. “We tried a bunch of different things but hopefully one or two of them work. At the end of day, it’s putting in time.”
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo