Injured Williamson could travel to India for World Cup as team mentor

Rawalpindi: New Zealand white-ball captain Kane Williamson is unlikely to play at the ODI World Cup later this year but the injured batter could still travel to India for the marquee-event as a team mentor.

Head coach Gary Stead said he would “absolutely” look to use the experienced batter and limited overs skipper in a mentor-type role.

Williamson is in rehab after undergoing a successful surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament of his right knee.

Kane Williamson looks set to travel to India for the World Cup later this year, regardless whether he is deemed fit.

Black Caps coach Gary Stead confirmed he would “absolutely” look to utilise the injured white-ball captain in a mentor-type role during the ODI showpiece in October and November in the likely case he can’t play.

Speaking ahead of the team’s five-match away ODI series against Pakistan, Stead also again refused to rule out the team’s most valuable player as he begins rehabbing his busted knee.

Williamson, wh ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee while fielding for Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League this month, has had surgery and faces a race against time to return to play.

“It’s still far too early to know,” Stead said. “He’s had the operation and, to date, what we know, that’s been successful. So he is in the very, very early stages of his rehab programme.

“It’s obviously pretty non-weight-bearing at this stage, and he’s in a brace. It’s really just meeting milestones as we go. Our line around Kane, at the moment, is still it’s unlikely that he will be available, but we certainly don’t want to rule out a person of his class and calibre, and the things he brings to this team, too early in case there is that chance still.”

Given Williamson’s importance to the team’s hopes of going one step better than the previous two World Cups, Stead can not be faulted for hanging on to even a thread of hope.

In reality, that’s exactly what it is – given the World Cup starts in less than six months (October 5) and ACL injuries typically require between six and nine months of rehabilitation.

Speaking of the World Cup, Stead and the rest of the cricketing world continue to wait for the schedule to be released.

As of now, all he knows is the tournament runs between October 5 and November 19, although he expects that to change once the team returns home next month.

“It’s [schedule] not out yet, so there’s not much we can do about that, so it does keep our options reasonably open without knowing the venues and who we are playing at different venues.

“So, it does make it pretty difficult to finalise plans right now. But that again just gives players opportunities that are within the squad now to come out here and play for New Zealand.”