New Zealand great Kane Williamson, who led the country to the World Test Championship triumph in its inaugural edition, stepped down as the captain from the longest format, the country’s cricket board announced on Thursday.
Tim Southee has been named the replacement in their WTC title defence. Williamson will continue to lead the side in the white-ball format with focus on the ODI World Cup in 2023 and T20 World Cup in 2024. Tom Latham has been appointed their vice-captain.
“Captaining the Black Caps in Test cricket has been an incredibly special honour,” said Williamson, who took over the role in 2016 from Brendon McCullum.
“For me, Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game and I’ve enjoyed the challenges of leading the side in the format.”
Statistically, Williamson is the best Test captain in New Zealand’s history, winning 22 of 40 matches at the helm, as well as eight draws and just 10 defeats.
Under his leadership, New Zealand reached the top of the Test rankings before emerging as winners of ICC Test Championship, beating India in the final in June last year.
On his decision, Williamson said: “Captaincy comes with an increased workload on and off the field and at this stage of my career I feel the time is right for this decision.
“After discussions with NZC, we felt that continuing to captain the white-ball formats was preferable with two World Cups in the next two years.”
Williamson said Southee and Latham will have him as a source of help throughout his tenure.
“I’m excited to support Tim as captain and Tom as vice-captain,” he said.
“Having played with both of them for most of my career, I’m confident they’ll do a great job.”
Southee, who has 346 internationals to his name and has led the T20 side on 22 occasions, will become New Zealand’s 31st Test captain when he leads the team during this month’s Test tour to Pakistan.
The first Test begins on the Boxing Day at Karachi.
“It’s been a surreal few days and it’s just a massive honour to be appointed as Test captain,” Southee said.
“I love Test cricket, it’s the ultimate challenge and I’m really excited by the opportunity to lead the team in this format.
“Kane’s been an outstanding Test captain and I’m looking forward to working with Gary on how we can build on that, he added.
Paying his tribute to Williamson, New Zealand coach Gary Stead said: “Kane’s guided the Test team through an immensely successful period which is testament to his ability to bring people together and work towards a common goal.
“He’s certainly led from the front with his own performances and that was very much the case during our push to win the World Test Championship.
The Test team has continued to evolve and develop during his time and the fact we’ve been able to introduce new players and see them thrive almost instantly is a credit to Kane and his leadership.
“We hope by lessening his workload we can continue to see the best of Kane Williamson for longer on the international stage, and we know he will remain a key leader in this group.
Sead said the decision to appoint Southee as captain came down to the direction in which the Test team wanted to head.
“Tim’s a quality leader with a good cricket brain, Stead said.
“We’ve seen his captaincy skills on display with the T20 side and I’m sure he’ll continue to bring an aggressive style, whilst still maintaining the core fundamentals of how this Blackcaps team operates in the Test arena.
“He will also come from a slightly different perspective in being a bowler which I’m sure will also bring with it new ideas and fresh thinking.
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