Kane Williamson steps down as New Zealand skipper

New Zealand cricketer Kane Williamson. Photo Courtesy: Kane Williamson Instagram page

New Zealand’s star cricketer Kane Williamson has relinquished his position as the white-ball skipper and declined a central contract from the board for the 2024-2025 season.

He announced his decision following New Zealand’s group stage exit in the T20 World Cup.

“Kane Williamson has re-emphasised his long-term commitment to the BLACKCAPS in all three formats – despite declining a central contract for the 2024-25 year,” New Zealand Cricket said in a statement.

“The veteran of over 350 internationals will forgo a central contract and the captaincy of the BLACKCAPS white ball teams in a move he hopes will extend his international career,” the board said.

The 33-year-old has opted to take advantage of a particular set of circumstances this summer in which very little international cricket is being played in New Zealand during the January window.

Outside that month, he remains available for the BLACKCAPS, who will play eight World Test Championship matches before Christmas and attend the ICC Champions Trophy tournament in Pakistan in February-March.

Players offered NZC central contracts must commit to being available for both the BLACKCAPS and the domestic Dream11 Super Smash competition.

Williamson said his decision should not be interpreted as a sign he was losing interest in international cricket; on the contrary, he remained open to potentially accepting a central contract offer in the future.

Representing New Zealand was still a priority.

“Helping push the team forward across the formats is something I’m very passionate about and something I want to keep contributing towards,” he said

“However, pursuing an overseas opportunity during the New Zealand summer means I’m unable to accept a central contract offer,” Williamson said.

NZC CEO Scott Weenink said Williamson was a great New Zealand player who had earned the right to take some time off to pursue other goals, including family-oriented priorities.

“This is a good way to help keep Kane in the international game so that he continues to play a major role for the BLACKCAPS – both now and in the years to come,” said Weenink.

Pace bowler Lockie Ferguson has also indicated he won’t accept a central contract offer when the contracting process opens.