Kane Williamson still committed to Black Caps

Publish Date
Thursday, 20 June 2024, 8:48PM

Kane Williamson has taken a typically steady approach to ease fans’ nerves about his future with the Black Caps.

The now-former captain returned to New Zealand from the failed T20 World Cup campaign on Thursday morning, a day after his decision to turn down a central contract was announced.

Williamson’s shift to a casual playing agreement left many questioning how his involvement in the national side would be affected, given Trent Boult’s similar move in 2022 spelled the end of his time as a Black Caps regular.

But Williamson reiterated his commitment to the team in all three formats and indicated he could even be back in the centrally contracted group this time next year.

“My priority still is absolutely playing for New Zealand,” the 33-year-old said. “I want to play as long as I can - I love playing for New Zealand. I’ve really enjoyed my time captaining and it’s been a privilege and an honour to do that for a number of years.

“Being a part of this team is so dear to me and I want to remain in that community for as long as I can, as long as I’m offering and adding value.”

Williamson’s value would be seen throughout a test-heavy schedule in 2024, though he did not commit to playing the one-off test against Afghanistan in September. In January 2025, when the Black Caps’ only action is limited-over series against Sri Lanka, the batter will instead feature in South Africa’s domestic T20 competition, as reported yesterday by Dylan Cleaver’s The Bounce.

But unlike Boult, who used his employment freedom to play a number of T20 competitions around the world, Williamson said he had explored no other franchise options.

Instead, he viewed the SA20 as an exciting opportunity that came with little downside - except the New Zealand Cricket regulation that stated a centrally contracted player must be available for Super Smash selection in January.

“It looks like an amazing competition,” Williamson said of SA20. “There’s a number of great competitions on during that time but SA looks really exciting. It’s a wonderful place to go and play. It’s something a little bit different.

“For me and my family at this stage of my career and the calendar that we have coming up, it’s something exciting and something to look forward to and something a little bit different, without really interfering with the international schedule.

“Although it’s turning down a central contract, it’s really no different in terms of the playing schedule and representing New Zealand.”

Williamson is not alone in adjusting his representative role and fast bowler Lockie Ferguson is also set to be missing when the central contracts are announced this month. That pair will not be the last given the trends towards franchise cricket, with Williamson preaching the value of flexibility in a changing world.

“Different-sized boards have slightly different challenges, everybody is a little bit different, and my priority still is the New Zealand team,” he said. “My time in a Black Caps jersey is as it was, and the commitment and the passion to do that is very much still there.”

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission

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