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Will Williams, the New Zealander who has played domestic cricket for Canterbury for the last decade, has joined Lancashire as a local player for the next three-and-a-half years with the use of his British passport. Williams joined Lancashire last month on a short-term overseas deal but has now been registered as a non-overseas player across formats, and is available with immediate effect. The move effectively ends his Canterbury career.
Williams has a remarkable record in his first-class career, with 123 wickets at 23.15 bowling right-arm medium fast, and has also taken 81 wickets across the white-ball formats.
"It was a big life decision to use my British heritage to take up local player status and give up my ability to play back in New Zealand," Williams said. "However, I felt this was an incredible opportunity to learn and grow my game. I would like to thank the club - particularly Mark Chilton [director of cricket] and Glen Chapple [coach] - for making it happen.
"The lads have made me feel at home here already and I am now looking forward to playing at Emirates Old Trafford for the first time in front of our members and supporters and helping this great club to challenge for trophies again."
Chilton said that Williams had been identified as a potential overseas player last winter before the club had learned that he held a British passport and was "considering the option" of moving to the UK to play as a local player.
"Due to injuries and international selection, we required a seamer at short notice for last month's County Championship matches," Chilton said. "Following Will's performances in those matches, and through conversations with him since, we have taken the decision to turn his short-term overseas contract into a local player contract.
"This is an exciting opportunity for us, and for Will, and he has already been a really nice fit into the club in terms of the type of cricketer he is and we look forward to him developing with us over the course of the next three-and-a-half seasons."
Thanking the coach and support staff at Canterbury, Williams said that it was an "absolute dream" to play for the club.
"Right from a young age it was my absolute dream to play for Canterbury, so I felt very fortunate every time I got to put the cap on. I'd like to say a massive thanks to all the staff at Canterbury Cricket and in particular, Peter Fulton, Brendon Donkers, and Dayle Hadlee, all of whom have helped me endlessly over the last 10 years."
Fulton, the Canterbury coach, had mixed emotions on seeing one of his bowling mainstays leave but wished him the best.
"On a personal level, I am really pleased for Will as this is great opportunity for him to secure his future as a cricketer. Lancashire is a club with great history and I am sure Will is going to be an excellent addition for them."
"Obviously we are really disappointed to be losing Will from a Canterbury Cricket perspective. He has worked incredibly hard over the last 8-9 years to become a mainstay in our side. His skill with the ball and his durability will be hard to replace. We wish him well and thank him for the years of service he has given to the province."