New Zealand to provide Williamson every chance to prove fitness ahead of World Cup

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 New Zealand will give experienced captain Kane Williamson every chance to prove his fitness ahead of a potential fourth ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup campaign in India this year.

Williamson was deemed an unlikely participant in this year’s World Cup when hurt his knee while fielding during the opening match of the Indian Premier League in March, but the 33-year-old has recently made strong progress in a bid to lead his country into battle at the 50-over showcase.

The veteran right-hander is pushing hard to be named in New Zealand’s 15-player squad for the six-week tournament that commences in India on October 5 and recently returned to batting in the nets alongside his teammates as they gear up for an important white-ball series against England, the ICC reported on Monday.

Teams have until September 5 to provide the ICC with a preliminary squad for the 13th edition of the World Cup and final lists then need to be lodged prior to the September 28 cut-off date. Squad changes can only be made after his date with approval from the ICC.

New Zealand coach Gary Stead said while Williamson was progressing well in his bid to return to full fitness, the team’s influential skipper still had some boxes to tick before he would be considered for selection.

“We have got about two weeks from now until we name that side,” Stead said.

“We are going to give him every chance and use that full amount of time,” he said.

“He’s in full rehab mode, he’s back batting in the nets again which is great to see. He’s progressing really well but again there’s a lot of work for him still to do to make sure he gets to where we need him to be,” Stead said.

Williamson is a veteran of three World Cup campaigns already with the Kiwis and starred at the most recent edition when amassing 578 runs at a lofty average of 82.57.

He stroked two centuries and a further two half-centuries during the event and was instrumental in helping New Zealand go agonisingly close to a first World Cup title when they lost a thrilling final to England at Lord’s.

Williamson’s experience on the big stage will be vital for New Zealand as they attempt to go one step further in 2023 and Stead said the team was looking at all avenues possible to have the skipper included.

“They are all the things we are weighing up right now,” Stead said. “There’s a chance that even if Kane was named that he wouldn’t be available right at the start of the tournament. But he also might be, and he also might not be ready.”

“It’s still a little bit of crystal-ball gazing where he will be at. Yes, of course, we want him at the World Cup but there is that bigger picture in mind that we want Kane Williamson fit for the rest of his career,”

he said.

“They’ll be honest conversations that Kane and I will have with each other around exactly where he is at, to make sure we get the best outcome for our team but also the best outcome for Kane Williamson and his long-term career,” Stead added.

New Zealand’s World Cup campaign commences with a re-match of the epic 2019 final when they take on England in Ahmedabad on October 5.

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