WELLINGTON: Captain Kane Williamson of New Zealand pulled out of the second West Indies Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Thursday as he awaits his first child’s eventual arrival.
The sudden U-turn came just hours after Williamson’s batting mainstay had told head coach Gary Stead he was going to play in the game that begins on Friday.
Williamson, 500 kilometres from Wellingt\on, had flown home to Tauranga to be with his wife Sarah on the eve of the match.
He flew back to Wellington after verifying his availability, where, after further talks with Stead, he decided it would be better if he returned to be with his wife.
It’s a determination because we’ve got the best interests for him and Sarah, and for our team as well,” Stead said.”
Williamson had previously said that ‘mid-to-late December’ was due to the boy.
If he had to quit during the test, cricket does not encourage substitutions.
“He’s not the first person to have a baby and miss a test match, so at this time our thoughts and wishes are with Sarah and Kane and we want to make sure the mother and baby are well looked after first and foremost,” Stead said.
Williamson, ranked the world’s second-best batsman behind Australian Steve Smith and equal to Virat Kohli of India, provided the backbone of New Zealand’s expansive innings victory with an epic career-best 251 in the first test last weekend.
After the opening Test in Adelaide next week, Dad-to-be Kohli will leave Australia to return home for the birth of his first child, ensuring he will almost definitely miss the series’ final three matches.
Tom Latham will take over as captain for New Zealand in a hasty reshuffle and Will Young, who opened the batting in the first test, will take Williamson’s place at number three.
It helps the first Test gloveman Tom Blundell to open the innings with Latham with B.J. Watling returning from his hamstring strain to resume his position as wicketkeeper.
Stead said whether to swap all-rounder Daryl Mitchell with spinner Mitchell Santner was the only thing left to be settled.
To make his debut, the West Indies called Joshua da Silva, replacing wounded wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich, but postponed announcing the rest of their line-up after seeing the morning pitch.
With pace bowler Kemar Roach having returned home after his father’s death, there will be at least one more transition.
For the opening day, high wind gusts of up to 120 kilometres per hour (75 mph) are expected, making it challenging for bowlers who might predict another traditional New Zealand green wicket on the plus side.
West Indies Captain Jason Holder, who described the wicket as having “just as much grass, if not more than the emerald Hamilton surface, said, “You just have to keep your head down a little longer and try and drive through the storm.
Holder said that making amends for their bad showing in Hamilton was necessary for his side.
In the first Test match, we let ourselves down, but we have to keep pushing,” he said but he didn’t believe the performance was as bad as it seemed to be the result.” You look at the potential and what can be created by this squad, it is there. We’ve already done that before.