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News

World Cup a 'tough goal' but Williamson happy with 'little progressions'

He admits New Zealand's ODI tour to Bangladesh will be early for comeback but is working towards the small milestones

Ashish Pant
11-Aug-2023
Kane Williamson would want to keep his good form going, Sydney, November 8, 2022

Can Kane Williamson make it in time for the ODI World Cup?  •  Getty Images

Kane Williamson has admitted that making it to the ODI World Cup in India in October remains a "tough goal" for him. But Williamson is cautiously optimistic as he continues "to tick off the small milestones" on his road to recovery, having undergone surgery for a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament [ACL] in his right knee in April.
"To be at the World Cup is always special. It's still just guesswork at the moment in terms of when the day is or how it's tracking at the time," Williamson told reporters at the Bay Oval about where he stands with regard to a potential comeback.
"There's a lot of work to do. I am just really following the programme, with the professionals for physio, the support staff and New Zealand Cricket. And it's tough, because you do have some good days, and then you have a few variable ones.
When asked what he thought his recovery chances for the World Cup were when he got injured back in March, he said: "Yeah, obviously slim, and still, you know, a tough goal. However, something like that [World Cup] in the back of your mind is obviously motivating and you want to keep seeing those improvements."
The New Zealand white-ball captain was speaking for the first time since posting a video on social media on August 1, where he was seen taking throwdowns in the nets. Williamson hasn't started facing bowling in the nets yet but he will join the national side in England during the T20Is and ODIs to continue his rehab. He suggested that there was "definitely more movement" in the knee but also made certain that he wasn't looking too far ahead of himself.
"Yeah, good, just kind of on that same journey path really where there's been some nice little progressions and working through some of those little milestones and return to the running phase, which I am in at the moment," Williamson said of his recovery.
"It has been nice to get back on the feet a little bit more and sort of get more into the net sessions and get slightly more involved as well. [There is] definitely more movement. I suppose that's almost the name of the game…let's get the strength and the movement to improve throughout. It is obviously a bit of a slow journey, as a number of others are experiencing."
While Williamson was unable to give a timeline about a possible return, he did suggest that making it to New Zealand's tour of Bangladesh for the three ODIs in late September in the lead-up to the World Cup would "probably be a bit early".
"It's a tricky one - you start entertaining a few earlier targets," he said. "It is a lot about the healing element as well. You can have the strength work, the movement, the confidence, but the actual healing is what has to happen and there are a lot of things to really assess before that time. So, that [Bangladesh] series, by all accounts, is too early."
Williamson was also hopeful he was not far away from taking on the bowlers in the nets too.
"Yeah, still, throws and things, working through some of those positions. I never really had to break it down so much ever in terms of some of the spin work, the variation and links, all these sorts of things that you never thought too much about," he said.
"Now, you're really trying to exaggerate some of the movements and get them better prepared for the higher intensity stuff. But you know, it is progressing nicely, and hopefully not too far away, really from both."
Williamson said he was "really looking forward" to joining the squad in England, where New Zealand will play two T20 warm-ups on August 25 and 27, before the T20Is from August 30 to September 5 followed by the ODIs from September 8 to 15.
"The team hasn't spent that much time together anyway, but obviously being off the grid a little bit, it's nice to be hitting over there and connecting with the group. One of the last tours that one and the Bangladesh one before obviously the World Cup, so it will be nice to spend some time with the team and do a bit of training and rehab with the group as well," he said.

Ashish Pant is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo