Kane Williamson opts out of New Zealand central contract for 2024-25

Kane Williamson, New Zealand’s current T20I and ODI captain, has declined a central contract for 2024-25. He will also step down from white-ball captaincy to prolong his international career.

“Helping push the team forward across the formats is something I’m very passionate about and something I want to keep contributing towards,” Williamson said in a New Zealand Cricket (NZC) release. “However, pursuing an overseas opportunity during the New Zealand summer means I’m unable to accept a central contract offer.”

New Zealand have very little cricket at home during this season, especially in January. They are slated to play eight Tests, including a tour of India and then a three-match home series against England in November-December, before Christmas. Ahead of last season, Williamson, 33, had relinquished the Test captaincy with Tim Southee appointed as his successor.

Despite forgoing a central contract, Williamson reiterated his commitment to New Zealand and remained open about accepting a contract in the future.

“Playing for New Zealand is something I treasure, and my desire to give back to the team remains undiminished,” he said. “My life outside cricket has changed, however. Spending more time with my family and enjoying experiences with them at home or abroad is something that’s even more important to me.”

The announcement comes on the heels of a disappointing T20 World Cup 2024 campaign for New Zealand, who missed out of at least a semi-final finish in a men’s World Cup for the first time since 2014. Williamson was coy about his T20I future saying “Oh, I don’t know. We’ll see where things land,” when asked whether he would be involved in New Zealand’s T20 setup in 2026.

Williamson, who played his 100th Test earlier this year, also has 165 ODI caps and 93 T20I caps. He led New Zealand in 40 Tests, 91 ODIs and 75 T20Is – a stellar recorded decorated by their finals’ appearances in the World Test Championship 2021 (that they won), the ODI World Cup 2019 (which they lost via a Super Over) and T20 World Cup 2021 (lost to Australia).

January 2025 will see a clash of T20 leagues, with UAE’s ILT20, South Africa’s SA20, Australia’s BBL and Bangladesh’s BPL set to overlap. While ILT20 is set to begin on January 11, it is understood that the BBL will run until January 26. The SA20 is set to run from January 9 to February 8. New Zealand’s Super Smash could also be on in the same time period. All of it will be followed by the ICC Champions Trophy – to be hosted by Pakistan – that is to start tentatively on February 19.

Scott Weenink, the NZC CEO, said that New Zealand’s “greatest ever batter” has earned the right to pursue other goals, including family-oriented ones.

“This is a good way to help keep Kane in the international game so that he continues to play a major role for the Blackcaps – both now and in the years to come,” he said. “We have very little international cricket in New Zealand through January and outside that period he’s still available for the Blackcaps. NZC has a strong preference to select centrally contracted players for the Blackcaps.

“However, we’re happy to make an exception for our greatest ever batter – especially as he remains so committed to the team. I know it sounds a bit counterintuitive, but I’m very encouraged by this development.”

Fast bowler Lockie Ferguson, 33, who has played a Test, 65 ODIs and 42 T20Is, has also indicated that he won’t be accepting a central contract offer. He signed off from the T20 World Cup with figures of 4-4-0-3 against PNG, becoming only the second bowler – and the first in T20 World Cups – to bowl four maidens in a men’s T20I.