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Williamson walking a tightrope over persistent elbow issues

New Zealand captain trying to find a balance to manage the problem better

Deivarayan Muthu
Gary Stead and Kane Williamson have a chat  •  ICC via Getty

Gary Stead and Kane Williamson have a chat  •  ICC via Getty

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has found it challenging to refrain himself from over-hitting at the nets and instead keep himself fresh for the matches. Williamson's elbow injury flared up during the warm-ups in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup and the team management has managed him carefully since then.
Williamson had sat out New Zealand's first warm-up, against Netherlands, with a niggly hamstring. He then returned to action against Australia, top-scoring for his side with 37 off 30 balls, but aggravated his elbow.
The elbow complaint has been a long-standing one for Williamson, forcing him to miss the ODI series at home against Bangladesh, the start of the first leg of IPL 2021 in India in April, the Edgbaston Test against England and the inaugural Hundred. The elbow was more recently put to test, again, when New Zealand played three Super-12 fixtures in five days across three venues in UAE.
"Yeah that has been a bit of a challenge for me personally - the balance between the loading of the elbow and things like that," Williamson said on the eve of the semi-finals against England in Abu Dhabi.
"So, trying to stay as fresh as possible for the game. So, it's been a bit of a delicate balance to get my head around and I certainly look forward to the day it's gone (laughs) and I don't have to worry too much about it.
"But, as it stands, it's a topic of discussion and [I'm] just trying to work closely with the physio to make sure I'm as fresh as possible for the game. It has had an impact on loading, which therefore means training has been a lot less to be fair."
Head coach Gary Stead also said that Williamson's stints at the nets have been limited although he prefers to hit a lot of balls at training.
"Kane's good at the moment," Stead said. "He hasn't probably trained as much as he would have liked. But that's just making sure that the time when he's batting, hopefully, that's in the middle for us and winning games of cricket that he's not overdoing the elbow and probably training for him is the chance of making it worse. We've managed that well and I think that's the mental challenge for Kane - to work that out as well."
Three days after the T20 World Cup final in Dubai, New Zealand are set to kick off their India tour with a three-match T20I series. New Zealand will then begin their World Test Championship defence in the two-match Test series in Kanpur and Mumbai.
The same T20I squad that was picked for the World Cup will also tour India. This means Williamson's niggly elbow is set for a heavier workout in the subcontinent.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo