Stead non-committal on Williamson-Latham split captaincy
Head coach says team was comfortable with the decision to give ample time for Williamson to recover from elbow injury
New Zealand head coach Gary Stead has said that although the team missed the services of Kane Williamson for the home season, the move to rest him was the right one and that the team was at peace with the decision. Williamson was ruled out of the Mumbai Test due to an elbow injury during New Zealand's tour to India and both he and Stead have maintained that surgery would be the "last resort".
"He is one of our great batsmen and he'll always be missed," Stead said speaking after the series against Netherlands. "But we still maintain that it was the right thing for Kane and the right thing for us in the long run. The difficulty was and, the catch-22, is Kane comes back early, scores a hundred and his elbow is gone again and we'd be in the same place. We're still comfortable on the decision that has been made."
New Zealand played two Tests each against Bangladesh and South Africa before the white-ball series against Netherlands. They managed to draw both the Test series, with each of Bangladesh and South Africa managing to win a match each.
Williamson returned to action in the IPL 2022, where he is leading Sunrisers Hyderabad.
"Everything is going to plan in terms of how he is feeling and how he is preparing," Stead said about Williamson's rehab. "I didn't see at what he scored overnight but sounds like not too many and he'll be disappointed about that. But he is going well on track and is where we want him to be as far as getting him ready for the Test match series in England.
"We would like him to play everything if he's available. Any team with Kane Williamson in it looks slightly stronger that one without him in it. Kane, like any of us, needs breaks at certain times and he's dying to play for NZ again, I can assure you that. But we can't burn him out in the future and have to be smart about those things."
In Williamson's absence, although Tom Latham captained New Zealand, Stead was non-committal on whether it is the way forward.
"We haven't talked about that and at the moment Kane's out of that role because he hasn't been available for us. It hasn't been discussed and when Kane comes back I expect him to be captain again."
The home season also saw Ross Taylor on the field for the final time, the third ODI against Netherlands being his last in international cricket. Taylor, who made his international debut in 2006, had announced at the start of the year that the Tests against Bangladesh and the ODIs against Netherlands would be his last.
While he picked up a wicket on the final ball of his Test career, he could score only 14, which included his trademark slog sweep, in his final ODI.
"We had a great night for Ross as well as Mike Sandle (New Zealand manager) as well, two stalwarts of our team that have been there for a long time," Stead said. "We had some internal stuff and small presentations to the guys because I am not sure that the time they have put in does justice to any real gift you can give them. I hope they remember it fondly.
"I've seen it a few time before and been through it in my own career. I guess I have an understanding of what it was like. I have never seen Ross so content and happy in what he was doing and I think that speaks for the decision that he has got to. It's important that he walks away to a happy place."
Does he see Taylor in a coaching role in the future?
"We were having a chat last night just around coaching just about what it might mean and mentoring players in the future and I am sure he will be open at some stage to be able to do that," he added. "In fact talking to the boys last night he mentioned that he is always there to listen and talk to people and I think that is the mark of the man he is."
S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo