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News

Kane Williamson hopeful of recovery from elbow injury before IPL 2022

New Zealand and SRH captain says surgey is "an absolute last resort" on his troublesome elbow

Deivarayan Muthu
11-Feb-2022
Kane Williamson faces throwdowns before the match, Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Delhi Capitals, Dubai, IPL 2020, October 27, 2020

Kane Williamson's recovery from his long-standing elbow problem is progressing slowly  •  BCCI

New Zealand and Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Kane Williamson is hopeful of being fit for IPL 2022. The 31-year-old has opted against surgery for a long-standing elbow injury and is instead undergoing rehab now.
Williamson had come into IPL 2021 on the back of the elbow injury that had sidelined from the ODI series at home against Bangladesh. Williamson was not fit enough for selection in the early exchanges of the first leg of IPL 2021 in India, with Trevor Bayliss, then the Sunrisers coach, saying Williamson needed a "little bit of extra time to get his match fitness".
Williamson, however, returned to action for Sunrisers' fourth game last season, against Punjab Kings at Chepauk. He then replaced David Warner as captain midway through the season after the side suffered five defeats in six games. Sunrisers eventually finished bottom, with a mere three wins in 14 matches last year.
More recently, Williamson was retained by Sunrisers for INR 14 crore, ahead of the IPL 2022 auction. However, the elbow injured had flared up in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup in the UAE, where Williamson cut short his stints at the nets to manage the injury. Later, it troubled him in India as well. He sat out the second Test in Mumbai, with Tom Latham taking over as captain in his place. Williamson subsequently missed the home Test series against Bangladesh, and will miss the forthcoming Test series against South Africa as well.
Although no timeframe has been set for his return to competitive cricket, Williamson is cautiously optimistic of recovering in time at some point during the white-ball series against Netherlands in March-April, which could precede IPL 2022.
"All the conversations, certainly with New Zealand cricket and Sunrisers who are aware of this...I've had it [elbow injury] for a long time now, so this period of time is to try and get it right. I guess the timing of this period is sort of dictated by injury," Williamson said. "It is progressing, which is a good thing, and there's still quite a bit of time between now and then, or now and some of the Netherlands games perhaps. There's nothing definite, but it is progressing. So I'm hopeful that I'll be back on the field as soon as possible.
"Last [IPL] season was an example as well, where I wasn't involved initially and it was elbow-related as well. The franchise was great and supportive of it. I'm optimistic that it will continue to improve. The [T20] format, in particular, is slightly more friendly to managing the load. So, we will wait and see, but it is taking steps forward, which is positive."
'Cutting it off -thought about it a few times'
Williamson expressed it frustration at the lengthy injury layoff but pointed out that undergoing surgery would be the "last resort". Head coach Gary Stead had echoed Williamson's reviews recently, saying surgery was unlikely.
"Cutting it off - thought about it a few times," Williamson said. "From what I can gather and certainly talking to the professionals is that it doesn't promise; it's sort of an absolute last resort and after, if there's a real requirement of rehab and specific loading because it sort of doesn't promise... This [rehab] is without a doubt the more preferred option at this point of time and hopefully the one that works and gets rid of it. It is tracking in the right direction."
Williamson said that he had originally planned to return to action for the Test series at home against South Africa, which begins from February 17, but the slow recovery has delayed his comeback.
"I think it's progressing. It has been very slow," he said. "It has been frustrating, but certainly putting in the time and effort into the rehab and a very gradual loading sort of a batting schedule as well because clearly in the last sort of a year and a bit, I have tried to learn as much as I can about it. And it has been a very frustrating time really - one of the more frustrating periods in my career where it's essentially not something that's broken but something that's more disruptive than anything to my body.
"In my mind without a doubt, the South African series was something that I was targeting despite the medical team not being as optimistic, but I sort of felt things could progress quickly. Everyone seems to have a different story with this sort of injury, so I was certainly hopeful but it is not to be. It was a tough pill to be honest because missing any game - certainly Test cricket for me are the ones that you never want to miss."
Williamson said he also reached out to the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Steven Smith and his former IPL team-mate Manish Pandey - who have all dealt with elbow injuries.
"[I spoke to] a number of different people with different thoughts and ways to get rid of it," he said. "We tried a bunch of different things but hopefully one or two of them work. At the end of day, it's putting in time."

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo