Blackcaps v Sri Lanka: NZ talisman Kane Williamson to arrive late after family bereavement

Blackcaps talisman Kane Williamson will be a late arrival in Christchurch for the opening test against Sri Lanka, after a family bereavement.

Last week, the master batter became New Zealand's leading test runscorer, surpassing former teammate Ross Taylor, and scored his 26th century, guiding his team to a historic one-run victory over England at Wellington.

As the national team come down off that high and assemble for the series-opener against the Sri Lankans, the former skipper will remain with his grieving family.

"On behalf of the team, everyone's feeling for Kane at the moment," said captain Tim Southee. "He's in the best place he can be, and that's in and around his family.

"It's a sad time for the Williamson family and we look forward to Kane joining up. He's been able to training with the [Northern Districts] guys in Tauranga, so I'm sure he'll be hitting plenty of balls and making sure he's ready to go, come Thursday."

After their incredible - and unexpected - success against England, the NZ men must now return to earth and refocus for a more traditional series, facing opponents who have plenty to play for.

While Australia have clinched their spot in the World Test Championship final, Sri Lanka currently sit third on the competition standings, with a chance of edging past India for the second position.

Blackcaps celebrate their victory over England
Blackcaps celebrate their victory over England. Photo credit: Photosport

While 'Bazball' has attracted all the hype around test cricket in recent months, Southee dismisses the notion that the subcontinent side present any less of a challenge.

"I don't think that's correct," he said. "Sri Lanka are still in the hunt for the World Test Championship and they've played some great cricket over the last two years to be in that position.

"We know that Sri Lanka are a very good side... we respect every opposition and it's a challenge we're looking forward to. We're obviously out of the test championship, but they've still got plenty to play for over the next two weeks.

"It's about us playing what's in front of us - it's a different surface, different opposition, so it's something we're looking to embrace, and another opportunity to show what we've got."

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