Wednesday, 6 July, 2022
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New Zealand skipper Williamson relishing extended England series

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is looking forward to seeing his side challenged over a longer campaign as they prepare for a three-Test series in England.

The economics of the game mean although New Zealand are the reigning World Test champions, they are rarely involved in anything more than a two-match campaign, even when they are at home as a result of having one of the smaller populations among leading cricket countries.

Indeed the last time New Zealand were involved in anything more than a two-Test series was when they suffered a 3-0 defeat in Australia in 2019/20.

But last year New Zealand hit the ground running to win a two-match campaign away to England 1-0 before, just over a week later, they defeated India in the inaugural World Test Championship final at Southampton.

"It's been a little time between drinks for our Test side," Williamson, 31, told reporters at Lord's on the eve of the series opener against England.

"The guys are so passionate about Test cricket -- we're a nation that probably doesn't play quite as much as England, Australia and India and play slightly shorter series.

"It's a great opportunity for the nation to be playing a little bit more Test cricket."

Williamson has been troubled by a left elbow injury for some time, while a recent stint in the Indian Premier League coincided with the birth of his second child.

But the star batsman, out for a duck in his lone warm-up innings of the tour, said of his injury: "It's significantly improved, which is the pleasing thing. Having that time out of the game was beneficial to get it back on track even though it was frustrating watching the team on the sidelines."

Williamson's men will face an England side with a new leadership team at the helm in captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, a former New Zealand captain.

"It's a great opportunity for Brendon," said Williamson, who spent much of his international career alongside McCullum before succeeding him as Black Caps skipper.

"He's such a positive guy and an amazing leader as well. He does tend to have a strong impact wherever he goes and clearly the English set-up have seen some strong qualities in him they want as part of their set-up. It's exciting."

New Zealand face an England team who are bottom of the World Test Championship table, having won just one of their last 17 matches at this level.

England, however, have recalled James Anderson and Stuart Broad, their two most successful Test bowlers of all time, for this match.

Even though Anderson has taken 640 Test wickets and Broad 537, the pair were both controversially omitted from England's series loss in the West Indies earlier this year.

"They are amazing players and legends of the game," said Williamson. "They certainly know how to perform at the top level."