Williamson hopes to build on McCullum's groundwork

Kane Williamson believes captaincy would not have a major impact on his batting, which he sees as a “different thing” © Getty Images

New Zealand would seek to emulate the freedom and aggression that had defined their cricket under Brendon McCullum, new Twenty20 captain Kane Williamson said.

The board has not announced a long-term successor to Brendon McCullum in any format, but Williamson has been handed charge of the T20 side until the end of the World T20 at least. Williamson said his role as “interim” captain was to continue McCullum’s work.

“I’ve been enjoying stepping in for Brendon when he’s not around,” Williamson said. “We’ve been playing some good cricket together. What Brendon and Mike Hesson have created over a number of years has been huge for the team. Having the interim role as captain, it’s important that you continue the good things we’ve been doing. That’s a focus of mine. There are number of leaders in the team, all of whom need to take some responsibility.”

The three-match series against Pakistan, which begins on Friday, shapes as a significant step in New Zealand’s route to the World T20. For now, these matches are New Zealand’s only T20 internationals before the World T20 in March – though they are in the process of lining up an opposition for a brief series in Dubai, on their way to India. Williamson said his team would be “aware” of the challenges his team would face in India, even if they do not have much opportunity to prepare in Asian conditions.

“Playing in the subcontinent brings a lot of challenges, skills-wise,” he said. “Leading the team, there it’s important that we are all aware of those. It’s important to encourage the side to keep playing with that freedom. It’s such a short tournament and things happen so quickly, if you can go into it with momentum and have a fearless approach, then you can make inroads in the tournament. It’s a wee-way away, but it’s in the back of some of the guys’ minds.”

Williamson has now established himself at the top of the order in McCullum’s absence. He said captaincy would not have a major impact on his batting, which he sees as a “different thing”.

“It’s important to play to the situation, and that’s the focus,” he said. “There might be the odd time where the captaincy might come into your mindset when you are looking at certain guys coming in to bat, where there wasn’t a particular order. With my batting I’m just going to keep things as simple as I can. The captaincy is of utmost importance off the field and when fielding.”

He also bats in a top order with several big-hitters. The second T20 against Sri Lanka was a display of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro’s power, while Corey Anderson and Ross Taylor – who come in at nos. 4 and 5 – have also played explosive innings in the past.

“My role is to play my game,” Williamson said. “At the moment the, way Guptill’s going, I need to adapt to make sure our partnership is doing what the team requires. If guys are playing so well, it’s important that you are batting with the guy at the other end – whether that’s a role that allows them to play with that freedom, or a role that takes the pressure off them – that will change game to game.

“There’s some special ball-striking in this team. With Brendon, who’s done it for so many years not being available, it’s nice to see some of the other guys step into that role. We’ve all seen Guptill do it time and time again.”

Williamson was also vary of playing too aggressively at Eden Park, where the short boundaries can tempt batsmen to play big shots. That had appeared to be the case in the second T20 against Sri Lanka, who had several batsmen perish attempting to clear the rope. ] “The dimensions are a bit different from your average cricket oval,” Williamson said. “They do take a bit of getting used to. Sometimes you can go too hard. That has happened in the past. When you do lose wickets it’s harder to take advantage of the smaller boundaries. That’s something to consider as a touring side. Also, the crowd – when they get going – it can be extremely loud as well.”

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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