15 Dec 2022

Williamson steps down from Test captaincy

4:14 pm on 15 December 2022
Kane Williamson New Zealand Black Caps captain.

Kane Williamson will step down as New Zealand's most successful Test captain. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Kane Williamson will step down as captain of the Black Caps Test side, with Tim Southee to take up the leadership mantle.

Williamson will continue to lead the ODI and T20I sides and has reiterated his desire to play all three formats internationally.

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 on this month's Test tour to Pakistan.

Canterbury opener Tom Latham has been confirmed as Test vice-captain, after previously leading the side in Williamson's absence.

Williamson has captained the Test team on 38 occasions (22 wins, 8 draws, 10 losses) since assuming the role from Brendon McCullum in 2016.

Williamson was statistically New Zealand's most successful Test captain, a stint which included getting New Zealand to number one ICC Test ranking at the start of 2021 and winning ICC World Test Championship Final.

He said the time was right to step back.

"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.

"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 was confident Southee and Latham would "do a great job".

NZC chief executive David White congratulated Williamson on the way he had lead the Test side.

"Kane is one of our all-time greats and our priority is to ensure he enjoys his cricket and plays for New Zealand for as long as possible.

"He's a brilliant leader and the success the team has achieved during his time in the longest and arguably toughest format of the game, has been nothing short of remarkable."

Tim Southee celebrates a wicket.

Tim Southee will be New Zealand's 31st Test captain. Photo: © Copyright Andrew Cornaga 2022 / www.photosport.nz / Photosport Ltd

White said Southee was the right man for the job.

"Tim's a strong and tactically astute leader and has a good feel for the game. I believe he is the right person to build on the foundations that Kane's created."

Black Caps coach Gary Stead said Williamson had been a fine Test captain.

"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 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."

Stead said the decision to appoint Southee 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.

Southee will be just the second specialist pace bowler to be officially appointed as New Zealand test captain after Harry Cave in 1955, although Dion Nash stood in for Stephen Fleming in three Tests in 1998-99.

"We've seen his captaincy skills on display with the T20 side and I'm sure (Tim) will continue to bring an aggressive style, whilst still maintaining the core fundamentals of how this Black Caps 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."

Southee, the current Sir Richard Hadlee Medal winner, said it was humbling to be asked to lead the Test side.

"It's been a surreal few days and it's just a massive honour to be appointed as Test captain.

"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 Williamson captaincy by the numbers:

40 Tests as captain. Won 22, drawn eight, lost 10

Averaged 57 as captain. Only M Crowe (54) has also averaged 50 or more as captain for NZ.

In those 22 Test wins as captain, Williamson averaged 79 with eight centuries.

Williamson's 11 hundreds as captain is a NZ record.

Of all players who have captained in 40 Tests or more, only Brian Lara has a higher average as captain than Williamson - and only just 57.83 v 57.43.