The New Zealand TV commentator and former player Simon Doull has said he believes it is time for the Black Caps captain, Kane Williamson, to preserve his long-term international future by stepping down after the third Test at Headingley.
Speaking to the Guardian from the makeshift TV commentary box in Amstelveen where he is commentating on the England-Netherlands one-day series, Doull acknowledged the huge contribution to New Zealand cricket provided by Williamson.
“I just don’t know about the longevity of Kane Williamson the captain,” said Doull. “He is without doubt the best player we’ve ever produced outside of Sir Richard Hadlee. He is world class and I’d love him to be just the best player we’ve ever seen and if that means giving up the Test captaincy to prolong his career, I think he should.
“He’s never been a lover of doing the media – he’s just not that guy – he’s a real cricket guy, he loves the game, studies the game. I just don’t know that he can sustain all three formats. I would rather he was just New Zealand’s one-day and T20 captain.”
Williamson has played only two Tests since guiding New Zealand to the World Test Championship last summer, missing the second Test at Trent Bridge because of injury, but had an indifferent Indian Premier League campaign by his standards, returning home early for the birth of his son.
“When you’ve got a really worthy replacement, and Tom Latham is,” Doull continues, “I think that is the easiest time to transition and walk away from it. New Zealand don’t play another Test until the autumn [after Headingley], so it is not a bad time after the Leeds Test to do it.
“It’s not because I think Kane’s been a bad captain, I think he’s been a great captain – to take New Zealand to the World Test championship was incredible.”
For his part, Doull’s stop off in Amsterdam is the latest in the whistle-stop tour of his life.
After a tricky period in his personal life, the stresses of returning home during Covid, and disillusion with the direction in which New Zealand is heading, Doull has moved to Dubai, where he now holds residency.
It is not something he ever expected after growing up in New Zealand, having two sons there, and an international career spanning eight years and 98 Test wickets. But, as he hops from tournament to tournament, he said it makes life easier.
“People ask me about the job, but it is not a job, it is an absolute passion. If I ever complained about travelling the world and talking a little bit of crap about something I did twentysomething years ago, I think people might slap me.”
Despite Doull’s move out of the country, his heart has remained with New Zealand cricket. “If you ask any fan around the world, New Zealand are their second team, which is kinda cool. When I hear people talk about the team, and how respected they are, it makes me proud to be a Kiwi.
“The way Kane handled things through that 50-over [World] cup final, I think it affected him for a long time after that, I don’t think he got over it for six to eight months, maybe he still hasn’t. It hurt him a lot, just because he felt it was their time, they were all at their peak – Boult, Southee, Williamson, Taylor, that was New Zealand’s World Cup to win.
“It was just a shame it was also England’s to win. There are some very impressive men in that side, we’ve found a brand of cricket to play that people love and that we can all be proud of.”