New Zealand captain Kane Williamson returns to face England at Headingley

Kane Williamson is back to lead New Zealand’s quest to avoid a series whitewash against England after watching last week’s Trent Bridge thriller on his hotel television.

Williamson tested positive for Covid-19 after experiencing mild symptoms on the evening before the Nottingham Test and was forced to take in his side’s dramatic fifth day defeat in isolation.

But he has picked the baton back up from deputy Tom Latham for the final Test at Headingley, cleared for action alongside Devon Conway and Michael Bracewell who both tested positive after the previous match, hoping to have picked up some fresh insights along the way.

“I watched a lot of it, I didn’t have too much else to do,” he said.

Tom Latham led New Zealand in the second Test defeat against England
Tom Latham led New Zealand in the second Test defeat against England (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I don’t shout at the TV, I watch and observe. It’s always interesting seeing it from a different perspective, although it wasn’t my preferable place to be. It was interesting to watch and connect from the other side a little bit.

“There was a lot of effort that went into the match and you do have to applaud the quality England have come in with. It was a Test where both teams put their front foot forward, played some shots.

“England are a strong side playing well so for us it’s about improving as a side, the bigger picture. It’s about focusing on our cricket and finding different areas of the game to target. The focus is on us and wanting to be better.”

Williamson’s return to the fold means a rebalancing of the side, with Henry Nicholls vulnerable among the specialist batters.

Experienced seamer Neil Wagner is also angling for his first appearance of the series, potentially at Tim Southee’s expense following a forgettable showing last time out, and spinner Ajaz Patel holds his spot in a 13-man squad.