Bereaved Kane Williamson to join New Zealand’s squad late for Christchurch Test

Bereaved Kane Williamson to join New Zealand's squad late for Christchurch Test
New Zealand batter Kane Williamson will join their squad late for the Test series opener against Sri Lanka in Christchurch following the death of his grandmother Joan Williamson-Orr, a former mayor of Taupo. Williamson will link up with the side after attending a memorial service on Wednesday.
Two days out from the first Test at the Hagley Oval, captain Tim Southee said that Williamson has trained with his domestic side Northern Districts in the meantime and that he will be “ready to go” against Sri Lanka.

“On behalf of the team, I think everyone is feeling for Kane at the moment, and he is in the best place he can be,” Southee said. “And that is with, in and around, his family. It is a sad time for the Williamson family, and we look forward to Kane joining up. He’s been able to train with the ND guys in Tauranga, so I am sure he will be hitting plenty of balls and making sure he is ready to go come Thursday.”

Williamson was one of the architects of New Zealand’s epic one-run win against England after they were asked to follow on at the Basin Reserve last week. During his 132 off 282 balls, he surpassed Ross Taylor to become New Zealand’s highest run-getter in Test cricket.

Southee: ‘Guys still see Test cricket as the pinnacle’

Southee was pleased to have been part of history – New Zealand became only the fourth team to win a Test after following on, and just the second to win by one run – but insisted that they have now reset their focus to the Sri Lanka series.

“It has been great to have the amount of people who have been talking about Test cricket; to see the Basin Reserve filled for five days was great to be a part of,” Southee said. “I think, just in general, the guys are pleased to see people talking about Test cricket, and Test cricket being exciting. England have played their part in that over the last year or so.

“The guys still see Test cricket as the pinnacle of the game, and to have the amount of people who come up and talk about Test cricket is pleasing to see. It is a match that will be talked about for a long time, but they are a very humble group. Now our focus will shift to Sri Lanka.”

Southee wary of WTC final contenders Sri Lanka

New Zealand, the winners of the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC), are already out of the race for the final of this cycle of the WTC, but Sri Lanka are still in the running – along with India – to face Australia. If Sri Lanka sweep New Zealand away from home, they will get to 61.11% points. In that case, they would need India to not win the fourth – and final – Test of the Border-Gavaskar series in Ahmedabad.

“Sri Lanka are still in the hunt to make the final of the World Test Championship,” Southee said. “They’ve played some great cricket over the last two years to be in that position. So, for us, we know that Sri Lanka are a very good side, and they’ve shown that in the last couple of years – to be sitting in that top of the table in the Test Championship.

“So, we respect every opposition and that’s the challenge we’re looking forward to. They still have plenty to play for, and we’re obviously out of the Test Championship.”

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