'We've got two weeks' - Williamson in race against time to prove World Cup fit

The great Kiwi cricketer continues to recover from his ACL injury in England with five weeks left for the game's biggest event in October-November. 
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Despite marked improvement, Kane Williamson is fighting a battle with time to prove himself fully fit for the 2023 World Cup. The New Zealand skipper and ace batter, who has made rapid strides with his ACL recovery,  is still in the last leg of his elongated rehab since going down fielding in the IPL 2023 opener for Gujarat Titans (GT). 

Williamson has joined the rest of the Kiwi squad for their looming tour of England and will be continuing his rehab on the sidelines under the physios and medical staff's supervision. But his encouraging recovery in the past weeks will have to reach that absolute state quickly, with Black Caps required, like all other World Cup teams, to submit their 15-member squad to the ICC by September 5. 

However, the squad is allowed to be changed without approval until September 28, which be a cause of relief for the Kiwis after coach Gary Stead said Williamson is still in "rehab mode" and indicated the squad will be tweaked depending on how well he passes the next set of fitness drills and tests. 

Gary Stead on Kane Williamson's recovery 

"[We've] got about two weeks from now until we name that side. Going to give him every chance and use that full amount of time. He's in full rehab mode, he's back batting in the nets again which is great to see. He's progressing really well but again there's a lot of work for him still to do to make sure he gets to where we need him to be," Stead said ahead of the limited-overs tour of England, starting with the opening T20I on August 30. 

Effectively, there are two ways New Zealand can go about managing the Williamson issue and their World Cup plans. There is a likelihood they will name him in their squad submitted to the ICC a month prior to their World Cup opener on October 5 without complete readiness and bank on him to be fit over the coming weeks. 

The other option is to take Williamson on board as a travelling reserve, but this will require an injury within the main squad for the 2019 'Player of the Tournament' to come in. 

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"They are all the things we are weighing up right now. There's a chance that even if Kane was named that he wouldn't be available right at the start of the tournament. But he also might be, and he also might not be ready," Stead said. 

"It's still a little bit of crystal-ball gazing [about] where he will be at. Yes, of course, we want him at the World Cup but there is that bigger picture in mind that we want Kane Williamson fit for the rest of his career."

"They'll be honest conversations that Kane and I will have with each other around exactly where he is at, to make sure we get the best outcome for our team but also the best outcome for Kane Williamson and his long-term career," the coach added.