Kane Williamson has stepped down as New Zealand’s Test captain, pointing to his increased workload and desire to continue playing all three formats as the major reasons.
The 32-year-old, who has been part of the sport’s big four alongside Steve Smith, Virat Kohli and Joe Root, has been one of the world’s best players over the past decades.
Williamson has led the red-ball side for the Black Caps for the past six years, but will hand over the reins to veteran fast bowler Tim Southee, with batsman Tom Latham to become vice-captain.
The right-hander announced the news on Thursday and revealed he still intends to skipper both the ODI and T20 outfits moving forward.
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“Captaining the Black Caps in Test cricket has been an incredibly special honour,” he said.
“For me, Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game and I’ve enjoyed the challenges of leading the side in the format.
“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.
“I’m excited to support Tim as captain and Tom as vice-captain. Having played with both of them for most of my career, I’m confident they’ll do a great job.
“Playing for the Black Caps and contributing in all three formats is my number one priority and I’m looking forward to the cricket we have ahead.”
Williamson averages a very handy 52.62 with the bat during his Test career, scoring 24 centuries since his debut back in 2010.
His decision to step down from the captaincy sees him join the rest of the aforementioned big four, who all have either been removed or resigned from the roles for their respective nations in recent years.
“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,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead said.
“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.”