New Zealand’s cricket coach, Gary Stead, is holding out hope that seasoned batsman Kane Williamson might recover from his knee injury in time for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup this year.
Williamson, a key player for the Kiwi side, suffered a rupture to the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during an Indian Premier League match with the Gujarat Titans. Initial prognosis suggested that Williamson would miss the World Cup, which is set to commence later this year.
However, Stead suggested that the recent surgery went well and that they’re exploring every possibility for the 32-year-old to be ready for the global cricket tournament.
“Right now, it’s too soon to make a call,” said Stead about Williamson’s availability. “The surgery was successful, and he’s just embarked on his rehabilitation journey. We’re at a point where he can’t put any weight on it and is wearing a brace, but we’re aiming to hit specific recovery milestones.”
While the coach acknowledges the slim chances, he’s not willing to prematurely count out a player of Williamson’s stature and contribution to the team.
Even if Williamson is unable to compete, Stead is considering bringing him along in a mentorship role for the younger squad members. The Kiwi team, which reached the finals of the last World Cup in 2019, will look quite different this year due to recent retirements and contract changes.
Several stalwarts like Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill and Trent Boult have either retired or don’t currently have a central contract with the New Zealand team. As such, the World Cup squad will likely see a number of new faces.
Mark Chapman, for instance, is a probable inclusion following his standout century in the final T20I against Pakistan. His performance earned him a spot on New Zealand’s ODI squad for the Pakistan tour, and Stead is confident in his ability to shine in the big leagues.
Commenting on the team’s performance and the path towards the World Cup, Stead said, “The result of the T20I series against a strong Pakistan team was fantastic for us, particularly the performance in the last T20 game. The partnership between Mark Chapman and James Neesham was significant. We’re not just focusing on competition for places, but also how we continually build towards the World Cup.”