Cricket

Was there just the slightest of hints from new Black Caps coach Gary Stead yesterday that Tauranga's Kane Williamson might not continue as the New Zealand cricket captain in all three formats of the game?

There's a trend in today's jam-packed international schedule for some countries to share the captain's duties. The top job is test captain, but leadership in white-ball cricket – one day internationals (ODIs) and T20 – often goes to another senior member of the squad or specialist limited-overs player.

For instance, England have Joe Root leading them in the current test series against India, while Eoin Morgan was captain for the ODIs and T20. Sri Lanka were led by Suranga Lakmal for their recent test success over South Africa but Angelo Matthews was at the helm for the white ball matches.

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In fact, India's Virat Kohli and Williamson are the only regular leaders across all three types of the game but might that change under Gary Stead? As well as being appointed head coach, he also assumes responsibility as convenor of selectors.

When Williamson was appointed in April 2016, much was made of the fact that he would be leader in all formats.

Yesterday Stead seemed more flexible.

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. At the moment nothing's changed.

"I haven't spoken to Kane around that at all but I'm sure there'll be conversations in that space."

The new coach is certain though what his main priority is from one of the world's great batsmen.

"The first thing I want out of Kane Williamson is a continuation of runs"

When Williamson was appointed in April 2016, much was made of the fact that he would be leader in all formats. Photo / File
When Williamson was appointed in April 2016, much was made of the fact that he would be leader in all formats. Photo / File

Stead, who's 46, has been appointed for a two-year term after a significant background of success with the White Ferns and the Canterbury men's team. He took the White Ferns to finals of both the women's 50-over and T20 world cups while his Canterbury teams won four titles in four summers between 2013-14 and 2016-17.

He's enthusiastic about having his new team play so often at Bay Oval in Mt Maunganui this summer. The Black Caps have two ODIs against Sri Lanka on January 3rd and 5th and two more against India over Auckland Anniversary weekend on January 26th and 28th.

"It's a great place to play. I know Jared Carter, the groundsman, very well from when he was down at Lincoln.

"I'm delighted how the oval has developed there. It's a beautiful place to play and I love going to the Bay."

Stead, a father of two, comes from a family steeped in cricket. His father David played 123 games for Canterbury during an 18-year career. His aunt Janice was one of New Zealand's finest women players before they were called the White Ferns and a brother Wayne also had a match for Canterbury.

The new coach himself played five tests in 1999 as a middle-order batsman against South Africa, India and the West Indies. He averaged a solid 34.71 and was never out for less than double figures.

The most significant aspect of his appointment is the flexibility to co-opt additional expertise or specialist coaching support, especially for T20 matches.

With former Black Caps stars Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori and Shane Bond all coaching at various T20 franchises around the world, it seems one or more of them could be brought in when deemed necessary.

That may even extend, eventually, to the head coach not always touring.

"One of the things I'm big on is the welfare of our players and our staff. Decisions first and foremost will come down to the wellbeing of the player and that will be no different for me as well."


Gary Stead
Age: 46
Playing career: 1991 - 2006
Previous coaching roles: White Ferns, Canterbury