Black Caps captain Kane Williamson starts hitting cricket balls while watching South African tests

Kane Williamson talks to a Bangladeshi team member before the start of day three at the Hagley Oval.

Kai Schwoerer / Getty Images

Kane Williamson talks to a Bangladeshi team member before the start of day three at the Hagley Oval.

The injured Black Caps captain, Kane Williamson, is starting to hit balls this week, but remains in a race with time to be ready for next month’s South African test.

Williamson was out in the two-match series against Bangladesh, which was a 1-1 draw, due to a troublesome left elbow injury that has bothered him since February last year.

In a promising sign, Black Caps coach Gary Stead said Williamson would resume hitting throws at limited 10-minute intervals this week.

New Zealand Cricket would continue to take a cautious approach to the batting maestro that would slowly ease him along with his recovery to ensure there is no setback.

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Stead said it was too early to know if the 31-year-old would be ready for the first Test against South Africa, starting at Christchurch’s Hagley Oval on February 17.

“Kane is looking forward to starting hitting balls again, hopefully later in the week, and when we start getting into that, we will have a better idea of ​​what the plan is around getting him back to that series or not,” he told. Stuff.

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“It will be very, very low-key in the beginning. It will be something like 10-minute sessions, and it will not be the normal Kane Williamson battle for two or three hours. It’s just a progressive loading program where we will try not to flare up [elbow] tendon again. “

The ongoing elbow injury ruled out Williamson from the second Test against India in Mumbai in December, late in the first Test in Kanpur in late November.

Williamson’s elbow problem improved after a two-month break from cricket following the World Test Championship triumph in June. On the eve of his return to international competition at the Twenty20 World Cup in October, he felt uncomfortable again.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson finally strikes, he played in a match, against India in Kanpur in late November.

Altaf Qadri / AP

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson finally strikes, he played in a match, against India in Kanpur in late November.

“The idea is not to have pain at all. In the last couple of times, we’ve tried and maybe pushed him a little early, so we have to be special about the program.”

Stead was optimistic that Williamson could eventually overcome the elbow injury, instead of it being something he had to cope with for the rest of his career.

“I hope we can reach a stage where it will be like this, but there is no guarantee and that is something we have talked about.

“Kane may just need to adjust how he prepares and may not have quite as extensive online sessions during preparation periods. It still has to be decided how the elbow is shaped. “

New Zealand would love to have Kane Williamson as captain in the first Test against South Africa in February.

Altaf Qadri / AP

New Zealand would love to have Kane Williamson as captain in the first Test against South Africa in February.

If the injury put Williamson on the sidelines for the South African tests, it would be a blow to New Zealand’s top order. Retired Ross Taylor ended his decorated 112-match test career following Tuesday’s second Test victory over Bangladesh in Christchurch.

Should Williamson miss the matches, Devon Conway, who scored hundreds in both matches against Bangladesh, would likely remain at No. 3, with Henry Nicholls likely to slip up to four.

Auckland’s Glenn Phillips, who was part of New Zealand’s Test squad against India, could be a possible middle-class option if Williamson was not available. Phillips played a Test against Australia in January 2020, hitting five, scoring 52 and one duck.

Williamson will not play in the Northern Districts’ Plunket Shield match against Auckland, which starts on February 4, which would be too early for him, Stead said. “There’s no way he will be ready for that fight.”

He could still play against South Africa without any warm-up matches to assess how he felt about the injury.

“I think his record speaks for itself and he wants to know what he has to do to be ready. We will try to do that. [selection] call as late as possible to give him every chance to get it right [for South Africa]. “

Williamson had made encouraging progress with his strength program, and the next step was to see how he tracked down hitting balls. He wanted to gradually build up his workload with the bat.

Stead praised the way New Zealand fought back in the second Test against Bangladesh, after a shock loss of eight wickets in Mount Maunganui, where they delivered an uncharacteristically dull show.

They set the tone for the victory with some excellent batting after being sent in on a green Hagley wicket on day one.

An opening grandstand of 148 runs between Tom Latham, who scored 252, the second-highest score in his test career, and Will Young, and a 215-run second wicket partnership between Latham and Conway put them in a strong position.

“It just shows the temperament, the technique and the desire to put together partnerships, and we talked about it as a batting group to do that for extended periods,” Stead said.

With the ball, New Zealand’s tempo attacks hit regularly in both innings, repelling Bangladesh by 126 and 278.

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