New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson fractured his thumb during their match against Bangladesh on Friday in the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup 2023, and is expected to return only towards the business end of the campaign, provided the Black Caps make it.
New Zealand’s entry into the semi-finals of the grandest of stages is only a matter of formality though, as they sit pretty on top of the table with six points and three wins from three matches so far. However, they are going to have to navigate their remaining fixtures in the group stages in the absence of their captain, following the confirmation of his injury.
The incident took place during the Black Caps’ run chase after Bangladesh had posted a total of 245 runs. While running between the wickets, Williamson was struck on his left thumb from a throw at the wickets in an unfortunate incident. The excruciating pain from the hit was visible on his face which ultimately forced him to retire hurt as Glenn Phillips came to see the out the match.
Scans after the match picked up the injury and it was confirmed that the Kiwi skipper had an undisplaced fracture. The only bright light from the incident is that it had nothing to do with the knee problems that have troubled Williamson throughout his career. However, he will be out of action for a while and a minor miracle of sorts will see him come out to bat again before the end of the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Kiwis have called up batter Tom Blundell who will travel to India to cover, if Williamson fails to recover in time to play again in the tournament. However, New Zealand coach Gary Stead is hopeful that the 33-year-old experienced right-hander will be able to make a comeback before the end of the tournament.
Stead said, “Firstly, we’re all feeling for Kane to have this occur after all his hard work to return from his knee injury. While it’s disappointing news, the initial diagnosis has given us some optimism he can still feature later in the pool play following a period of rest and rehabilitation.”
He further said, “Kane is clearly a massive part of our side and a world class player and captain - so we’ll look to give him every opportunity we can to return in the tournament.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand will only be able to include Blundell in the squad and he will be available for selection if they receive approval from the organisers of the tournament. The head coach reaffirmed his faith in Blundell highlighting his recent run of form in Asia.
“Tom’s been with the one-day side on tours to Pakistan and Bangladesh and performed well. He covers multiple positions in the batting order and his wicket-keeping skills are also an added bonus as a back-up,” added Stead.
New Zealand will play their next match in the World Cup against Afghanistan in Chennai on Wednesday.