New Zealand captain and talismanic batsman Kane Williamson confirmed on Thursday he will play in the second Test against the West Indies in Wellington despite the fact that his first child is set to be born very soon. Williamson had the Black Caps sweating on his availability for the start of the match Friday after leaving the squad to take a 500-kilometre trip home to Tauranga to be with his wife. The skipper had previously said the baby was due “mid-to-late December”. It is worth noting that cricket does not allow for substitutions if he had to leave during the Test.
New Zealand coach Gary Stead said Williamson, who had been given until the end of the day to make a decision, had confirmed mid-afternoon he was “confident” of taking his place in the side.
Williamson, ranked the second-best batsman in the world behind Australian Steve Smith and equal with India’s Virat Kohli, provided the backbone of New Zealand’s comprehensive innings victory in the first Test with an epic career-best 251.
Stead said there had been no pressure on Williamson to play as New Zealand look to extend their 14-Test home unbeaten streak.
“We want to support Kane and Sarah in the decision they come to, and whatever way he chooses to go we will support him in that,” Stead said shortly before Williamson confirmed he would play.
“They’re the two sitting there with the decision in front of them.”
Stead said the only issue still to be resolved following Williamson’s decision was whether to replace all-rounder Daryl Mitchell with spinner Mitchell Santner in an otherwise unchanged side.
New Zealand stretched their unbeaten run at home to 14 matches with a comprehensive win in the first Test against the West Indies in Hamilton last Sunday after ending a battling rearguard century by Jermaine Blackwood.
The West Indies were all out before lunch on day four for 247 after making only 138 in their first innings in reply to New Zealand’s 519 for seven.
Blackwood was the penultimate wicket to fall, for 104, after a 155-run stand with Alzarri Joseph who made 86.
The victory, set up over the first two days when New Zealand captain Kane Williamson crafted a majestic 251, highlighted the difficulty overseas teams have on New Zealand wickets.
(With agency inputs)