Black Caps skipper 'extremely vigilant' ahead of India trip

Kane Williamson. Photo: Getty Images
Kane Williamson. Photo: Getty Images
Black Caps captain Kane Williamson admits to some nerves about the Covid-19 risk as he prepares to head off to play in cricket's Indian Premier League.

The New Zealand skipper was one of six Kiwi players set to feature in the tournament, which had been moved to the United Arab Emirates for a 19 September start.

But the competition faced it's first hurdle over the weekend, with a total of 13 members of the Chennai Super Kings bubble, including two players, testing positive for Covid-19.

Williamson departed on Thursday to join the Sunrisers Hyderabad squad, and hoped the measures that had been put in place would limit the impact of the outbreak.

"That's part of the reason why they made every team stay at a different hotel.

"But obviously that's bad news, you don't want to hear anybody [has got] Covid, although I hear they are predominantly asymptomatic, so hopefully through another lockdown period they can come through and we'll be okay.

"Obviously there's a little bit of apprehension, certainly as you get nearer to the time... now it's two days out you start thinking you do have to be extremely vigilant and disciplined."

Williamson's departure for India would come nearly six months after he and most of his Black Caps teammates last played a game of cricket.

During that Covid-enforced break, he had taken up some study, starting some entrepreneurial papers.

The whole squad had also watched on closely as the sporting world had began to play an increasing role in the drive for social and racial justice.

Williamson said the New Zealand side, who were expected to return to the field in late November, were keen to play their part but hadn't decided yet exactly what that looked like.

"We haven't met as a whole team yet, so that'll be the most important thing because individuals all have their own voices and as a collective it's important that they all have their say.

"When we're able to meet up together as a group, then we'll get a lot more clarity on that."

It wasn't that long since the Black Caps and New Zealand Cricket were themselves left apologising to a visiting player because of a racist incident.

An Auckland man was banned from attending international and domestic cricket matches in New Zealand for two years for making racist remarks towards England fast bowler Jofra Archer in November last year.

Reflecting on the incident, Williamson said it highlighted why the Kiwi team wanted to play their part in the push for equality.

"It was horrifying when all the guys heard that had happened and obviously we we're incredibly disappointed hearing something like that in your own country.

"As a country we take a lot of pride in the diversity that we have here and equality and the strides that we try to make.

"There's obviously so many people out there that are suffering because of it and so it's important to play your part."

Meanwhile, Williamson was reiterating his support for Gary Stead, as the head coach waited for news on the expected extension of his contract.

Last month, New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White predicted there would be a positive announcement on the situation "soon after" last week's board meeting.

The Williamson and Stead relationship has come under the microscope in recent months, with the pair reportedly having "philosophical differences".

But the Black Caps skipper maintained he enjoyed the partnership.

"He's a a fantastic guy and he wants what's best for the team and that's the really important part.

"His desires are genuine and it's about the team, which is a fantastic foundation for any leadership and then some of the inner workings are things to just continue to develop.

"The attention around [our relationship] is actually not a bad thing and it's great that people are thinking about cricket.

"For us it's always having those conversations and although at times we have differences of opinions, I don't think that's an unhealthy thing.

"It's always working towards a similar goal and we both want what's best for the team, so there's not a whole heap [to the scrutiny] really."

 

 

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