New Zealand news January 13, 2016

Williamson hopes to build on McCullum's groundwork


Kane Williamson believes captaincy would not have a major impact on his batting, which he sees as a "different thing" © Getty Images

New Zealand would seek to emulate the freedom and aggression that had defined their cricket under Brendon McCullum, new Twenty20 captain Kane Williamson said.

The board has not announced a long-term successor to Brendon McCullum in any format, but Williamson has been handed charge of the T20 side until the end of the World T20 at least. Williamson said his role as "interim" captain was to continue McCullum's work.

"I've been enjoying stepping in for Brendon when he's not around," Williamson said. "We've been playing some good cricket together. What Brendon and Mike Hesson have created over a number of years has been huge for the team. Having the interim role as captain, it's important that you continue the good things we've been doing. That's a focus of mine. There are number of leaders in the team, all of whom need to take some responsibility."

The three-match series against Pakistan, which begins on Friday, shapes as a significant step in New Zealand's route to the World T20. For now, these matches are New Zealand's only T20 internationals before the World T20 in March - though they are in the process of lining up an opposition for a brief series in Dubai, on their way to India. Williamson said his team would be "aware" of the challenges his team would face in India, even if they do not have much opportunity to prepare in Asian conditions.

"Playing in the subcontinent brings a lot of challenges, skills-wise," he said. "Leading the team, there it's important that we are all aware of those. It's important to encourage the side to keep playing with that freedom. It's such a short tournament and things happen so quickly, if you can go into it with momentum and have a fearless approach, then you can make inroads in the tournament. It's a wee-way away, but it's in the back of some of the guys' minds."

Williamson has now established himself at the top of the order in McCullum's absence. He said captaincy would not have a major impact on his batting, which he sees as a "different thing".

"It's important to play to the situation, and that's the focus," he said. "There might be the odd time where the captaincy might come into your mindset when you are looking at certain guys coming in to bat, where there wasn't a particular order. With my batting I'm just going to keep things as simple as I can. The captaincy is of utmost importance off the field and when fielding."

He also bats in a top order with several big-hitters. The second T20 against Sri Lanka was a display of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro's power, while Corey Anderson and Ross Taylor - who come in at nos. 4 and 5 - have also played explosive innings in the past.

"My role is to play my game," Williamson said. "At the moment the, way Guptill's going, I need to adapt to make sure our partnership is doing what the team requires. If guys are playing so well, it's important that you are batting with the guy at the other end - whether that's a role that allows them to play with that freedom, or a role that takes the pressure off them - that will change game to game.

"There's some special ball-striking in this team. With Brendon, who's done it for so many years not being available, it's nice to see some of the other guys step into that role. We've all seen Guptill do it time and time again."

Williamson was also vary of playing too aggressively at Eden Park, where the short boundaries can tempt batsmen to play big shots. That had appeared to be the case in the second T20 against Sri Lanka, who had several batsmen perish attempting to clear the rope. ] "The dimensions are a bit different from your average cricket oval," Williamson said. "They do take a bit of getting used to. Sometimes you can go too hard. That has happened in the past. When you do lose wickets it's harder to take advantage of the smaller boundaries. That's something to consider as a touring side. Also, the crowd - when they get going - it can be extremely loud as well."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Beau on January 15, 2016, 4:36 GMT

    Kane is a no-brainer for captain. I was initially against the idea, but he's really the only option. He's one of only a handful of the senior guys who look like they're all-but-guaranteed constant selection (KW, Taylor, BJ, Southee, Boult), and of those guys he's the only specialist batsman who is not Ross Taylor. You don't want a bowler as captain for all kinds of reasons. You don't want your keeper as captain because he already has enough to do (for instance: ABDV). And you don't want a captain who was previously the captain, only to fired and told by the coach "You are not good enough to be captain". That leaves Kane, and only Kane. He also has a fair bit of captaincy experience at youth levels. He's the only choice, and I reckon he'll do well.

  • Scott on January 15, 2016, 2:09 GMT

    @PQRSTUV So I assume you didn't watch the NZ vs PAK series in UAE which was the last time the kiwi's were in your area.

    Because your making a fool of yourself.

  • Scott on January 15, 2016, 1:58 GMT

    "With my batting I'm just going to keep things as simple as I can. The captaincy is of utmost importance off the field and when fielding."

    This is why he will be a brilliant captain.

  • Alex on January 14, 2016, 16:18 GMT

    Human tendency is that once they have perfect product they have to destroy it. Now NZ wants to destroy kane as batsman by making him captain. DO not appoint your best player as captain unless he always have people around him. A good person can not be leader of men. You have to understand human mind which is actually dirty. Leaders are calculative and understand nuances. Kane is just a good batsman still honing his skills. Guptil probably will do better job than kane. Kane can not rally the troops. Guptil can. Under kane everyone is free. Free people do not do efficient work. They slack off . Whine. You have to put pressure on people in various ways to make them work. Each player needs may be different. Kane is soft spoken guy and probably do not have even have forceful authority in saying things. Because its not his cup of tea.

  • Alex on January 13, 2016, 11:34 GMT

    His captaincy will be disaster. Thankfully nz has guptil to captain in future.

  • Utsab on January 13, 2016, 10:14 GMT

    @PQRSTUV Southee has to stay fit long enough to be considered for captaincy. He's not just injured often, but his performance graph is too inconsistent as well. Lately, Milne has found a way to be a tad economical, but he doesn't take enough wickets for a strike bowler. Then, McClenaghan takes wickets, but at an economy which puts paid to any good work he might have done. Guess, Boult is the only guy who keeps a balance between the wicket and run column. Wagner should walk into any NZ XI, coz he's not just potent and consistent, but he never gives up... he's very much like the Pakistani bowlers of 80s and 90s, bending their backs to get a purchase out of flat decks. Brace well too works hard, but lacks creativity. Matt Henry looks a handful, at least in seaming and bouncy conditions, but time will tell whether he can stay fit enough. Even with such a varied and plentiful bowling line up that NZ can boast of right now, it's plain sad that nobody of Shane Bond's mettle came by in so long. He had everything in his armory. Even did well in Indian pitches. Only if he wasn't injured so often.

  • Shane on January 13, 2016, 9:14 GMT

    @PQRSTUV - I've never considered Southee leadership material, personally. For one thing, he lacks the temperament and is too hot headed at times (even if he has improved this aspect of his play the last few years). Aside from that, they way he suddenly started bowling so much better once McCullum took over from Taylor has always said more about Southee to me than either of the others. There were reports at the time that he was essentially having a tantrum because Taylor would swear or get mad when the team didn't perform, which is frankly pathetic. He's become a very good bowler, but a captain he is not.

  • Shane on January 13, 2016, 8:36 GMT

    @KIWICRICKETNUT - there are some people out there who bought into the hype during the world cup without really bothering to find out if it was based on reality. These people will never be reasoned with, in all likelihood. #mcgsobig. And of course, you're right. Adapting to foreign conditions is the key.

  • Praveen on January 13, 2016, 8:23 GMT

    NZ will struggle in india.Y bcoz *Southee-boult combo doesn't work *No quality spinner * Inability to play spin(Excluding williamson)

  • jared on January 13, 2016, 8:09 GMT

    @pqrstuv, McClean park and Eden park are our only two small grounds the rest are pretty standard by international standards but I don't think we have what anyone would call a large ground, maybe bay oval that looked pretty big, I don't think it's the size of the grounds that trip us up in Asia and Australia its our inability to adapt to the foreign conditions, our batsmen get tied in knots when facing quality spin and while our batters had some good moments in oz our bowlers couldn't adapt and looked pretty toothless, you could argue that it was just the Aussie batsmen who are very formidable at home that made them seem that way and there's some truth to that but not being able to adjust when it didn't swing was just as telling, if we fail at the world cup I don't think it will have much to do with ground dimensions but more to do with the pitch or conditions.

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