Opinion: Start grooming Williamson now

Blog Opinion

A batsman of pure grace, poise and class are the reasons why Kane Williamson is fast becoming a serious candidate to take over the New Zealand Test captaincy within the next few years.

A batsman of pure grace, poise and class are the reasons why Kane Williamson is fast becoming a serious candidate to take over the New Zealand Test captaincy within the next few years.

However, the one glaring problem barring this dream from becoming a reality is the fact that New Zealand currently don't have a vice-captain. With Williamson only being 23 years old, it is the perfect time to hand him some authority.

This will allow him to watch and learn how current skipper Brendon McCullum handles the pressures of being a captain, and the type of decisions he has to make on a match-by-match basis.

If Williamson doesn't start learning now, the fear is that New Zealand Cricket (NZC) will be ruining their chances of creating a superb captain, who is still in the early stages of his international career.

Williamson has already excelled in the longest format of the game, with six centuries and an average of 37.46 next to his name. While this may not resonate as captaincy material, people have to remember that Williamson is only 23 and has represented New Zealand in 33 Test matches to date.

Williamson has also led by example on numerous occasions as he has averaged more than 50 with the bat in six out of the 16 Test series he has played, including the ongoing tour of the West Indies. This shows that he has more than enough talent to be captain and it also proves that he can lead by example, which is exactly what a captain should do.

While leading by example and excellent averages are expected from a captain, Williamson has one more trait which puts him ahead of his peers. That trait just so happens to be experience.

Many people will be wondering how that is possible, but what they may not know is the fact that Williamson was New Zealand's Under-19 captain. In fact, he led them during the 2008 Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia, where they managed to reach the semi-finals before losing to India by three wickets via the Duckworth-Lewis method.

However, Williamson is not yet ready to captain New Zealand at the moment, since Under-19 cricket and Test cricket are obviously two very different levels. It is key that NZC make Williamson vice-captain in order to allow him to gain some confidence and learn from McCullum.

But, that doesn't mean NZC shouldn't allow and encourage Williamson to captain New Zealand when they play lower-ranked sides like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. This will not only give him a taste of what leading his country is like, but it will also allow NZC to see whether Williamson is a more aggressive or mellow type of captain.

Williamson has all the talent and potential to lead New Zealand into a new era. However, this can only be achieved if the stars of yesterday take a step back and allow the youngsters to shine.

NZC also have to allow McCullum to groom and mentor Williamson so that he can step up and shine as bright as the silver fern does on the New Zealand flag.

<b>Bimal Mirwani</b>