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Cricket: County title next target for Williamson

Kane Williamson heads to England.
Kane Williamson heads to England.

Confirmation as New Zealand cricket captain, a victorious Indian Premier League campaign and the prospect of helping Yorkshire to three consecutive county championships have made for a successful few months for Kane Williamson.

Yet the 25-year-old remained his phlegmatic self when he took time out from a six-day break at home to talk to the Herald on Sunday about his achievements since New Zealand exited the World T20 semifinals.

Williamson played six IPL games for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, averaging 20.22 with a strike rate of 102. However, Wisden's Leading Cricketer of the Year struggled to earn a starting spot in the shadow of captain David Warner, and locals Shikhar Dhawan and Yuvraj Singh during a campaign in which the franchise secured their maiden title.

"From not qualifying last year, to going all the way this year was a different experience and David led from the front with the bat," Williamson said.

The New Zealand No 3 heads to England tomorrow for a third season with Yorkshire as they try, coincidentally, to become the first team to win three consecutive county championships since their 1968 predecessors.

He will play three four-day matches ahead of the tour to Zimbabwe and South Africa, his first assignment as test captain.

"I'm looking forward to playing some red-ball cricket, which I haven't seen for a while. I have an apartment in Leeds, not too far from Headingley."

Past opportunities to travel in the county have been limited - the closest he's come to Yorkshire's famous Dales has been sampling the local cheese. If he gets a few days off, he says he might pop into Huddersfield and York, the towns of team-mates.

Williamson welcomed New Zealand Cricket's decision to re-appoint coach Mike Hesson, batting mentor Craig McMillan, manager Mike Sandle and fitness trainer Chris Donaldson.

But he reserved judgement on the International Cricket Council's proposal to split test cricket into two divisions or the governing body's admission that Pakistan and India are deliberately paired together at world tournaments with a commercial imperative in mind.

Beyond the series in Africa, he will return to India in pursuit of New Zealand's first test series win in the country he spends the second most time away from home.

"A few guys haven't played tests over there, which will make it a tough challenge. You don't get out too much, but you seize every opportunity because there is a lot of security, even when people want selfies. The boys enjoyed it during the World T20 and a number of us have played at plenty of their venues which also bodes well."

- Herald on Sunday

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