Williamson committed to New Zealand ahead of Australia series despite lucrative alternatives

·4-min read

Kane Williamson has no immediate desire to leave his role as New Zealand captain or the Black Caps' set-up, though he sees the appeal of big-money offers from elsewhere.

New Zealand face Australia in a three-match ODI series starting on Tuesday in Cairns, Queensland, looking to end a 13-year search for a 50-over win in the country.

They will do so without a key player in the form of Colin de Grandhomme, who last week announced his international retirement.

De Grandhomme's decision came after he had taken up an offer to play for the  Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League, which clashed with his New Zealand duties.

Trent Boult, the world's best ODI bowler who has taken 36 per cent of the Black Caps' wickets when he has played in the format in 2022, is another player who has been released from his New Zealand Cricket central contract.

Paceman Boult is included in the 15-man squad to face Aaron Finch's side, but this year's T20 World Cup might well prove the 33-year-old's swansong on the international stage.

Trent Boult is the world's best ODI bowler
Trent Boult is the world's best ODI bowler

Williamson himself is no stranger to playing in lucrative competitions such as the Indian Premier League, having featured for Sunrisers Hyderabad since 2015.

However, the 32-year-old has no plans to call time on his New Zealand career as he aims to end a seven-match losing streak against Australia in the 50-over game.

"It's a tricky one because it is changing - so much seems to have happened so quickly," Williamson told reporters. "It does seem to be a movement in the landscape of the game.

"Every case is unique and every case has got their individual needs at different stages of their lives.

"There are a lot of different franchise events happening and seeing players make decisions on their playing careers, it suggests that there is a balance to strike and some things to work through.

"At the moment I'm very much here and looking to do my very best for the team. I love being involved in this environment."

The series is the first between the two rivals – who faced off in last year's T20 World Cup final – since the start of 2020, with only one match played on that occasion before New Zealand's team travelled home with borders closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is not set to be another bilateral ODI series between the nations for the next four years.

While they have not lost an ODI on home soil to New Zealand since 2009, Australia will be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats at home for the first time since January 2019, following their shock three-wicket reverse at the hands of Zimbabwe last week, though they did at least win that series 2-1.

New Zealand and Australia played in front of no fans in March 2020
New Zealand and Australia played in front of no fans in March 2020

Finch's cause for concern

Australia's World Cup-winning captain is not in fine fettle. He scored just 21 runs across three innings against Zimbabwe and is going up against a fearsome bowling attack this time out.

Finch's record against New Zealand is nothing to shout about, either, with his 17.2 average from 10 ODIs the worst against any nation in the format. With the World Cup just around the corner, he will be desperate to hit his stride.

"Across his career, it's ebbed and flowed. His movement patterns sometimes early in his innings are compromised, whether that's through perceived pressure that he puts on himself or what the bowler does," head coach Andrew McDonald said of Finch's form. "We are working through it. He's working hard on his game."

Southee chasing a milestone

New Zealand have won nine of their 10 ODIs in 2022 (L1) – only Scotland (W12) and India (W11) have won more games this year.

In Boult and Southee, they have a brilliant bowling duo. The latter is three wickets away from becoming the fifth Black Cap to take 200 in the format, while if he achieves that in Tuesday's opener (his 147th ODI) he will be the second-quickest player to the landmark (after Kyle Mills – 135 matches).