COVID sidelines Williamson for must-win second Test




New Zealand captain Kane Williamson will miss the second Test against England at Trent Bridge starting on Friday after the Black Caps captain tested positive for COVID-19 on the eve of the match.

New Zealand Cricket said Williamson used a rapid antigen test after experiencing minor symptoms and he has begun five days of isolation.

Coach Gary Stead confirmed Hamish Rutherford will join the squad as Williamson’s replacement, and Tom Latham will captain the side in Williamson’s absence.

“It’s such a shame for Kane to be forced to withdraw on the eve of such an important match,” Stead said.

“We’re all feeling for him at this time and know how disappointed he will be.

“Hamish was with the Test squad earlier in the tour and has been playing for the Leicestershire Foxes in the Vitality T20 Blast.”

The rest of the touring party have returned negative rapid antigen test results and will continue following the tour health protocols of symptom reporting and subsequent testing if required.

Williamson’s side is fighting to keep the series alive in Nottingham this week and his absence is a blow to their hopes of levelling the scores.

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England triumphed over New Zealand in the first Test at Lord’s with a match-winning century from former captain Joe Root.

Williamson earlier said he was disappointed by comments from ICC chair Greg Barclay, who said there could be a reduction of Test cricket in the near future.

Barclay, a Kiwi administrator who took office at the ICC in 2020, ruffled feathers during last week’s Lord’s Test when he suggested the next four-year cycle of international fixtures would mean many full member nations play fewer Tests.

He warned of “unfortunate consequences” caused by the rise of Twenty20 leagues and indicated the schedule for countries outside the financial powerhouses of India, England and Australia would be impacted.

That idea left a sour taste for Williamson, who captained the Black Caps to victory in last year’s inaugural World Test Championship.

“We love our Test cricket, as do all the countries that have the opportunity to do it.

“Most of us come from an area where it is the pinnacle of the game and that’s certainly how we feel.

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“We want to see more of it and hope that, with the other formats which are also great, interest in the game grows. That would be ideal.”

© AAP





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