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New Zealand news – Gary Stead


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New Zealand are hoping to have a fully-fit Williamson in the mix for the Test tour of England after he finishes up with the IPL

New Zealand head coach Gary Stead has revealed that the team management wants Kane Williamson, who has been struggling with injury for a while now, to focus on T20 cricket for the next few months, as that would make it easier to manage his workload and ensure he is available for the tour of England in June.

Williamson, who has an elbow problem, is set to return for Sunrisers Hyderabad at the IPL, scheduled to begin on March 26.

“Kane’s heading off to India. All the IPL guys [12 New Zealand players are part of the league] are away this week and heading off there. That’s just part of the current cycle of what it looks like in world cricket,” Stead said after New Zealand announced their squads for the series against the Netherlands, which runs from March 25 to April 4. “He’s going really well. He’s been everywhere we want him to be and that’s great.

“For us, Kane playing T20 cricket is the right way forward for the short term. It means we can manage his loads a little bit more. And we have a little bit more of a clear idea around how many balls he will be hitting to make sure he is loading the elbow progressively, with a view to him being right for the Tests in the UK which we will be really hopeful for.”

The recurrence of the old elbow problem – which had troubled him for much of 2021 – during the New Zealand tour of India meant Williamson has not played any cricket since last December. Stead said that the plan was to have a fit Williamson for the three Tests in England – part of the World Test Championship – starting June 2.

Williamson played a total of five T20Is in 2021 before the T20 World Cup in October and did not feature in a single ODI last year. He also missed a few matches in the first leg of IPL 2021 and had to cut short his stints at the nets during the T20 World Cup to manage the injury that had flared up in the lead-up to the global tournament. Williamson, 31, had opted against undergoing surgery, and instead went into rehab. He had earlier planned to return to action for the Test series at home against South Africa in February this year, but that didn’t happen.

“Every time a new player gets selected for New Zealand and plays for the Black Caps, it’s exciting for them and exciting for our team. I think the natural opportunity that’s come around with 12 guys being essentially ruled out by playing in the IPL is exciting for us”

Gary Stead

Meanwhile, though 12 players are unavailable for the challenge against Netherlands, Stead expressed his excitement at the prospect of having new faces like Michael Bracewell and Dane Cleaver – both earned their maiden call-ups – in the squad. While Bracewell has been named in both the ODI and the T20I squads, Cleaver has been selected only for the T20Is. Bracewell and Cleaver were the top-two run-getters in this season’s Super Smash, New Zealand’s domestic T20 competition, scoring 478 and 369 runs, respectively.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Stead said. “Every time a new player gets selected for New Zealand and plays for the Black Caps, it’s exciting for them and exciting for our team. I think the natural opportunity that’s come around with 12 guys being essentially ruled out by playing in the IPL is exciting for us.

“We try and show loyalty to those that have been in our squad and I think that’s been part of the reason we’ve had some of the success we’ve had. We don’t make it easy to get into the teams, but Michael’s been knocking on the door for a while now. He’s a true allrounder. He’s got some great skills in all three forms of the game, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can bring.”

The home series against the Netherlands begins with the one-off T20I on March 25, followed by the three-match ODI series – which will be a part of the World Cup Super League – from March 29.

Srinidhi Ramanujam is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo



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