New Zealand give Kane Williamson chance to prove fitness as World Cup approaches

Black Caps captain links up with squad ahead of their ODI series against England next month

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has been sidelined with ruptured ACL he suffered in the Indian Premier League in April. Getty
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New Zealand will consider naming captain Kane Williamson in their squad for the ICC World Cup in October in India even if he will miss early games while recovering from a knee injury.

Williamson will link up with New Zealand during their series against England prior to the 50-over World Cup to continue a closely-monitored recuperation from the ruptured right knee ACL he suffered in the Indian Premier League in April.

There are just over 50 days remaining before New Zealand play England in their opening match at the World Cup on October 5. Black Caps coach Gary Stead said the New Zealand selectors will give Williamson every chance to prove his fitness.

“Kane’s working on a day-by-day, week-by-week process and we’ve been clear and careful with him that we don’t look too far ahead,” Stead said. “He’s progressed as we’ve hoped and possibly even better in some cases.

“But ACL injuries can be difficult, they’re different for every person. We’ll get the medical experts around Kane as much as we can to help us make that decision in three weeks.

Stead said if Williamson continues to show promising signs of recovery, New Zealand will consider naming him in their World Cup squad even if he is not immediately available. That squad will be named in mid-September, setting a tight deadline for Williamson to convince the New Zealand medical staff that he is fit.

Stead said Williamson’s selection even if he had to miss matches is “something we are talking about.

“If it’s the knockout stages then that might be too late as that’s something that you may not even be there, but if it was earlier in the World Cup we’d definitely be considering it.”

Williamson raised fans’ hopes when he recently posted footage of himself taking throw-downs in the nets.

“He’s not facing bowlers yet but he’s basically doing everything else,” Stead said. “With the knee, we’re just being careful with how that twists.

"We couldn’t have asked for more from him in that space. It's encouraging to see where he’s at and how he’s going but that doesn’t promise that he’ll be part of this World Cup squad just yet.”

Stead was speaking after naming his squad for series against England which includes a return for seam bowler Trent Boult.

Boult, 34, is set to play his first 50-overs international for 12 months after being included in the 15-man squad. He was left out by the Black Caps last year after turning down a central contract to play in Australia's lucrative Big Bash League.

Boult is back in the squad and on course to play at October's ODI World Cup in India, after signing a "casual playing agreement" with New Zealand Cricket earlier this year.

Stead said it was "great to welcome Trent back into our ODI unit as he begins his preparation towards the World Cup".

Boult is one of the world's best ODI bowlers, having taken 187 wickets at that level and a further 74 for his country in Twenty20 cricket.

New Zealand play four ODI internationals against England between September 8 and 15.

Updated: August 09, 2023, 9:45 AM