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News

Williamson has two weeks to prove fitness for ODI World Cup

Jimmy Neesham has been withdrawn from the T20I squad to return home for the birth of his first child

Kane Williamson during a fielding session ahead of the first Test against England, Mount Maunganui, February 15, 2023

Kane Williamson is with the New Zealand squad in England  •  Getty Images

Kane Williamson has two weeks to prove his fitness for the ODI World Cup after he linked up with the New Zealand squad in England to continue his rehab from the ACL injury picked up at the IPL.
When Williamson suffered the injury in April he was viewed as only a very slim chance of making the World Cup, but his progress in recent weeks has been encouraging and he will be given every opportunity to prove he is ready.
The 15-player squads need to be submitted to the ICC by September 5 but can be changed without approval up to September 28.
"[We've] got about two weeks from now until we name that side," New Zealand head coach Gary Stead said. "Going to give him every chance and use that full amount of time.
"He's in full rehab mode, he's back batting in the nets again which is great to see. He's progressing really well but again there's a lot of work for him still to do to make sure he gets to where we need him to be."
It could be that Williamson will be included even if he won't be ready for the early matches in the World Cup, or another option could be to have him as one of the travelling reserves although there would then need to be an injury in the original squad for him to be brought in. There will also be longer-term considerations taken into account.
"They are all the things we are weighing up right now," Stead said. "There's a chance that even if Kane was named that he wouldn't be available right at the start of the tournament. But he also might be, and he also might not be ready.
"It's still a little bit of crystal-ball gazing [about] where he will be at. Yes, of course, we want him at the World Cup but there is that bigger picture in mind that we want Kane Williamson fit for the rest of his career.
"They'll be honest conversations that Kane and I will have with each other around exactly where he is at, to make sure we get the best outcome for our team but also the best outcome for Kane Williamson and his long-term career."
Meanwhile, Jimmy Neesham has been withdrawn from the T20I squad for the series against England so he can return home early ahead of the birth of his first child. Cole McConchie will now remain on the tour.
"The birth of a child is a special time and we are a family environment," Stead said. "We are glad to be able to support Jimmy in heading home."
Neesham played two of the T20Is against UAE in Dubai before taking up a brief Hundred deal with Oval Invincibles who he helped to the title on Sunday with an unbeaten 57 off 33 balls, adding 127 with Tom Curran after the team had been 34 for 5.