Kane Williamson new but assured - Wright
Bowling yourself ahead of the world's most successful bowler is a gutsy call – one that shows how comfortable Kane Williamson is as a cricketing captain.
And that confidence paid off yesterday when Black Caps coach John Wright named Williamson skipper for the five-match one-day international series against the West Indies that starts on Friday morning (NZ time).
Williamson will be 21 years and 332 days old when he takes the reins instead of the injured Ross Taylor, making him the second-youngest player to lead an international ODI side, and comfortably New Zealand's youngest.
Stephen Fleming was a week shy of his 24th birthday when he first did the job in 1997.
It speaks a great deal of Williamson that Wright gave him the job, though with Taylor injured, Brendon McCullum resting at home, Daniel Vettori not playing ODI cricket and Jacob Oram injured too, the cupboard was getting on the bare side.
"It's the sort of leadership thing you don't want to thrust on [Williamson] too early but, to be quite frank, he's probably had more captaincy experience than most of the players in the party so he was the obvious choice," Wright said.
Leading his Gloucestershire side in English county cricket last winter, Williamson regularly chose himself to bowl the first over, saving Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralidharan for later.
Williamson was a surprise selection then by Kiwi coach John Bracewell, who clearly saw leadership potential in the young Northern Districts batsman.
But Wright, a former New Zealand skipper himself, is a big fan of the Tauranga-born Williamson who had a brief taste of captaincy in the second Twenty20 match against the West Indies on Monday.
Last month, Wright told The Press Williamson was "a cricketing freak" – referring to how hard he worked, his natural talent and his passion for the sport.
From an early age he has been earmarked as a future New Zealand skipper, but Wright warns while Williamson is up to the challenge, it's a big ask so early in his international playing career.
"He seems to enjoy it," Wright said. "And I thought he was very competent [in the Twenty20 game]. He's very young in his cricketing years and you don't want to throw too much at him. [But] he's had some experience with Gloucestershire."
When Fleming took over from Lee Germon in 1997, there was an outcry in some quarters that he was too young. He was soon rated as New Zealand's best skipper.
Taylor applauded Williamson's first shot in charge.
"He was obviously very nervous and he only had a day to prepare. His bowling changes were very good and he went with his gut which is quite often what you have to do," Taylor said. "He's going to do the job for a few more games yet and he showed promising signs and the team got in behind him."
McCullum, Taylor's usual understudy, will join the side during the ODI series. Wright was unsure if he would take the reins off Williamson.
Meanwhile, test specialist Mark Gillespie has been ruled out of the two tests at the end of the tour. Gillespie had not sufficiently recovered from an ankle injury to join the side and Wright said Kyle Mills and Tim Southee would be playing off in the one-day series to be his replacement.
- The Press