Kane Williamson, New Zealand's captain, has responded to criticism from Simon Doull about the team's T20 fortunes and reiterated that he wants to be involved in all formats for his country. Williamson said he had chatted amicably with Doull about the former pace bowler's comments but would be looking to continue the balancing act that sees him lead the Test, ODI and T20 sides.
Speaking on New Zealand radio last week, Doull suggested bringing in a specialist T20 coach to replace Mike Hesson and said that Williamson should only be in the side as an opener. Williamson has batted at No. 3 in recent series, with limited success, and New Zealand have lost three T20s in a row - in the process dropping from No. 1 to No. 4 in the ICC rankings.
Despite being heavily beaten by Australia in their opening Trans-Tasman T20 fixture in Sydney last week, New Zealand have qualification for the final in their own hands ahead of three games at home. Williamson may yet miss out on Tuesday's match against England in Wellington due to a back problem. Henry Nicholls has been called up as cover.
"I'd quite like to play," Williamson said. "I spoke to Simon afterwards, he wanted to go for a coffee. So we caught up, and I've known Simon for a long time and he wanted to clarify a few of those points because he didn't believe they came across in the right way. He's looking at volume of cricket, bringing new players into the international game and there's sense that he makes, but at the same time from a personal perspective T20 cricket is so prevalent in the international and domestic game and you play a lot more of it nowadays, and it's something you want to be a part of.
"I definitely want to play all three forms, without a doubt, it's a challenge I look forward to. But at the same time, as we've seen throughout the summer already, guys have had time off, they've missed a few games for those reasons and it's a balancing act moving forward because the volume of cricket seems to increase every year."
Since January 2017, Williamson has averaged 18.60 in T20 internationals, with a strike rate of 100.54. While Colin Munro's move up to opener has been a success - he has scored two hundreds and two fifties in nine innings - the knock on has been a further dip in Williamson's form: at the SCG, with New Zealand in trouble after losing early wickets, he managed just 8 off 21 balls and was caught at cover off a leading edge.
"Not as good as I would have liked," Williamson said of his recent returns, "but at the same time it's the nature of the game, that you're wanting more and more. I'm looking to improve all the time, trying to contribute as much as I can for the team and that's my focus. Don't get me wrong, I would like a lot more runs, but at the same time you don't want that to get in the road of what you're trying to achieve, which is your gameplan facing each ball as best you can and knowing that if you do put your trust in that, that's when the runs come.
"You take risks in T20 cricket sometimes it doesn't come off and it came be frustrating but it is going out and playing in the right style to help move the team forward. When you do take that approach and you do score some runs, that's when you help the team, rather than perhaps thinking about yourself too much and how many runs you might want."
While New Zealand have refused to rip up their playbook for T20, they have made changes for the next few games. Mark Chapman and wicketkeeper Tim Seifert are set to debut at the Westpac Stadium, with Tom Bruce and Tom Blundell making way, and Williamson said it was just reward for their form domestically.
"Tim's a player that can score all around the ground, packs a punch and hits the ball a long way... it was a really tough decision because Tommy [Blundell] came in and offers so much to the group every time he is involved. But it was purely a balance and a role-type decision and that's why Timmy comes into the fold and it's a really exciting opportunity for himself and Mark to make their debuts for New Zealand and come out and play their natural game, which they've been doing so well in the domestic T20 comps."
New Zealand have had a ten-day break without a game, as England completed the Australia leg of their tour, and Williamson said it was helpful for the players to have some time off. Having won every game at home this summer until two T20 defeats to Pakistan in January, they will be hoping to get back on track.
"T20 is fickle, so it's important we don't chase the win, we chase how we want to be playing cricket," Williamson said. "That's where we put our focus, we've said it all along. We've had a couple of losses in a row, which hasn't been what we've wanted but we've just been looking at how we've been playing and how we want to try and improve, and when we do that's when the results happen for us. So it's important we don't get ahead of ourselves."