“My priority still is playing for New Zealand”: Kane Williamson intends to play for Blackcaps as long as he possibly can


Auckland [New Zealand]: With his last duty as New Zealand captain over and done, Kane Williamson discussed his future with Blackcaps after turning down a central contract offer for the 2024-25 season and confirmed he intends to continue to play for the national side as long as he possibly can.

Following New Zealand’s surprise early departure from the T20 World Cup, Williamson said on Wednesday that he would renounce his national contract for the 2024-25 season and step down from white-ball captaincy to extend his international career. The 33-year-old has opted to take advantage of a particular set of circumstances this summer in which very little international cricket is being played in New Zealand during the January window. New Zealand plays virtually little cricket at home this season. They are scheduled to play eight Tests, including a tour of India and a three-match home series against England in November and December.

“Yeah, basically looking at the schedule ahead and having very little on it in the January window felt like it was a very nice opportunity to look at that. Unfortunately, it meant turning down a central contract. My priority still is, absolutely, playing for New Zealand. I think I miss maybe a handful of games, if any, over a [four-week] period. Without a lot on in that window. I felt it was a nice opportunity … something different to explore with the family,” Williamson told NZ Cricket.

Williamson has often been reticent to discuss his future plans in detail, and this remains true as he approaches his 34th birthday. “All major events and key series are things that certainly whet the appetite and are exciting prospects, but they are down the line. Managing my time as well as I can, after doing it for so many years is important, and I know NZC are really supportive of that. We’ll have to see – but they are certainly exciting prospects,” said the 33-year-old.
The speedster Trent Boult was released from his contract in 2022, while fellow pacer Lockie Ferguson stated that he would not accept a central contract offer when the contracting process begins.

Notably, ahead of NZ’s last game in T20 WC, Boult confirmed the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup 2024 will be his last appearance for the Blackcaps in the tournament. Boult, now 34, has only made intermittent appearances in New Zealand international teams since being released from his central contract nearly two years ago.

An international playing calendar is something that must be addressed, Williamson stated that World Cricket should investigate the matter. “It’s an ongoing challenge, the game is changing quickly. A lot of those decisions will have to keep being monitored by boards. All I can say is my priority is still New Zealand and I am looking forward to the cricket that we have coming up. I think everybody has a different situation and they are trying to assess what is for them and for me, my family at this stage. My career and the calendar that we have coming up, its something exciting and to look forward to, Something a little bit different without really interfering with the international schedule,” he added.

With 358 appearances for the Kiwis in his decorated career, the 33-year-old opted out of the contract list and white-ball captaincy in a bid to extend his international career. Talking about his career and timeline, Williamson said, “I want to play as long as I can. I love playing for New Zealand. I have really enjoyed my time captaining and it’s been a privilege and honour to do that for a number of years. I am excited about what’s next for the team in terms of leadership and looking forward to being a part of it. In terms of a time frame, it’s difficult to say, want to keep being fit, doing as well as I can, keep trying to improve and play long. No decisions are really made around that, but certainly test cricket is a priority in terms of formats and we’ve got a lot of that coming up. Over the next period of time, we’ll be making those decisions.”

New Zealand’s schedule for the 2024-25 season won’t be hectic as the Kiwis have minimal bilateral series commitments till the January window. But Williamson will remain available for the eight World Test Championship matches that New Zealand will engage in in a bid to once again play in the final, which will be played next year at the Lord’s in June. New Zealand will play eight World Test Championship matches before Christmas, and Williamson will be available to attend the ICC Champions Trophy competition in Pakistan in February and March. But before they embark on their WTC journey, Williamson is pleased to find a way to balance his personal and professional life as he continues to strive to play for his nation.

“Absolutely. Naturally, after major events, there are always different decisions that are made and you always look to bring different players through. But certainly being part of this team is dear to me and I want to remain in the community as long as I am offering and adding value,”

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