Cricket: Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson ahead of schedule in race for World Cup fitness

Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson is ahead of schedule in proving his fitness for the upcoming one-day international World Cup.

Williamson ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee on debut for Gujarat Lions in the Indian Premier League opener in April.

He immediately returned to New Zealand to undergo surgery, with the expected recovery timeframe of nine months seemingly ruling him out of the October tournament.

NZ coach Gary Stead has given the most encouraging update so far, leaving the door open for Williamson to make the squad.

"He's going very, very well, probably slightly ahead of where we expected him to be at this stage," he said. "We will leave the call on Kane for as late as we can to give him every chance of being there, he's obviously a quality player.

"That's exciting for us that he still is within a chance. I can't say more than that, because I don't know more than that right now and it will be a last-minute call."

The conclusion of the World Cup will see the Blackcaps return to New Zealand to kickoff their 2023/24 summer season.

NZ Cricket have confirmed a schedule that includes test series against heavyweights Australia and South Africa.

Kane Williamson is helped off the field during IPL.
Kane Williamson is helped off the field during IPL. Photo credit: Getty Images

Stead is looking forward to welcoming their trans-Tasman rivals for red-ball cricket for the first time since 2016.

"It's very exciting," he said. "They're playing good cricket at the moment, they've just won the World Test Championship.

"It's great for the fans to come, and see a team like Australia and the quality of that they have, and it's great for us to be able to measure ourselves of where we're at right now.

"We want to win every test match we go into, but I think there's a danger sometimes, if you put them too much on a pedestal.

"It's still about us playing our brand of cricket and our style we want to play, and really commit strongly to that.

"England have done that recently and managed to tip Australia up in the last [Ashes] test match, and we will keep learning from what we're seeing from the other matches that are on.

"Ultimately, it's about us committing to our style of play."