Kane Williamson coy on T20I future after New Zealand’s World Cup exit

New Zealand

Kane Williamson, New Zealand’s captain, said his team would need time to regroup after the disappointment of their group-stage exit from the T20 World Cup, but could not confirm whether he’d be back for another tilt at the title when the tournament returns in India and Sri Lanka in 2026.

Williamson, who turns 34 in August, has been a mainstay of New Zealand’s greatest white-ball team for more than a decade, having helped his side reach at least the semi-finals in seven of the ten consecutive World Cups that he has played in, across 20- and 50-over formats, since 2011.

In that time, New Zealand have played in three finals – with Williamson’s personal contributions including a Player-of-the-Tournament display in England in 2019 and an innings of 85 from 48 balls in defeat to Australia in Dubai in 2021. But, with his long-time team-mate Trent Boult having already confirmed this current tournament was his last T20 World Cup, Williamson recognises that a changing of the guard could be on the cards.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he said, when asked if he’d still be involved in New Zealand’s T20I set-up in 2026. “There’s a bit of time between now and then, so it’s about regrouping as a side. We’ve got red-ball cricket over the next year basically, so it’s back into some other international formats, and we’ll see where things land.”

New Zealand’s most notable victory of recent years came in the Test format in 2021, when Williamson captained the team to victory over India in the World Test Championship final in Southampton. The two teams are set for a Test rematch in India’s own conditions later this year, with New Zealand also slated for a three-match home series against England in December, and a four-match tour of Australia in 2026-27.

All of which could take precedence for Williamson, who played his 100th Test earlier this year alongside another of his long-standing team-mates Tim Southee, and who could yet become the first New Zealand batter to reach 10,000 Test runs (he currently has 8743).

Speaking on ESPNcricinfo’s TimeOut show, Stephen Fleming, the former New Zealand captain, said that Williamson would be afforded the time he needs and deserves to figure out his next move, but that his priorities were bound to have altered as he enters the final years of his illustrious career.

“It hasn’t really been questioned over here, due to his genius with the bat, but he has to make a decision now after a disappointing World Cup,” Fleming said. “What does his future hold? Is it all three formats, is it franchise cricket, is it family time? He will be getting to that point where he starts making decisions that have other influences, whereas before it was cricket and cricket only.

“He will be afforded the luxury of time, because he’s a generational player and he’ll be hurting a lot. The older New Zealand players would have looked at this as maybe their last good opportunity, so it might be that it’s time to move on, or he’ll steel himself to right the wrongs for the next one. But he’s not a guy that gives away a lot, so it’d be interesting to see what he does.”

On the specifics of this latest campaign, Williamson admitted that New Zealand had been too slow to adjust to the challenge that they faced in the Caribbean, where a strong Afghanistan and the hosts West Indies proved too powerful in a tough Group C.

“It took a long time to start and then, in a matter of days, we were not in contention, which was frustrating,” Williamson said. “We played against a couple of very strong sides who are very well equipped in these conditions and unfortunately that was the difference in our first two games.

“All in all it’s frustrating, but there’ll be learnings for the players that come back to this part of the world. These conditions have been somewhat challenging, so they are some good experiences to have going forward.”

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