Kane Williamson hits back at Ross Taylor over comments on Neil Wagner

Published - 06 Mar 2024, 11:55 AM

Kane Williamson scores another century
Kane Williamson scores another century (Credits:X)

New Zealand star Kane Williamson has hit back at his former teammate Ross Taylor‘s suggestion that all was not well within the team. Taylor made the comments in the wake of Neil Wagner’s shock retirement.

The left-arm pacer raised several eyebrows by announcing his retirement from international cricket just before the start of the first Test against Australia. Struggling to control his emotions, Wagner revealed that he decided to bring down the curtains on his career after being told by head coach Gary Stead that he would not find a place in the playing eleven.

Wagner remained with the squad for the first Test in Wellington before being released ahead of the second Test, scheduled to begin on Friday (March 8) in Christchurch. Taylor recently suggested that Wagner’s surprise retirement was an indication of unrest in the New Zealand dressing room.

Taylor was responding to a question on ESPN’s television show Around The Wicket about Wagner’s celebration after a wicket against South Africa last month. The left-arm pacer came up with the finger-on-the-mouth celebration after dismissing Zubayr Hamza. He was also seen showing someone the middle finger as the team got in a huddle to celebrate another wicket.

“I think it all makes sense a little bit now. There’s no sugarcoating it: I think it’s a forced retirement. If you listen to Wagner’s press conference, he was retiring, but it was after this last Test match [against Australia]. So he did make himself available,” said Taylor.

Kane Williamson reacts to Ross Taylor’s allegations:

Kane Williamson was asked about Taylor’s comments while he was addressing the media at Hagley Oval on Wednesday (March 6). The right-handed batsman denied Taylor’s allegations and insisted that Wagner was not forced to retire from international cricket. He also stated that the team gave the pacer a great send-off in Wellington.

“I don’t think anybody is forced to retire,” Kane Williamson said. “I think last week, he had a fantastic week and it was reflecting on what was an incredible career.

“We had some amazing moments in the dressing room. It didn’t go perfectly. Obviously, an on-field performance would have helped but it was so much more than that. He’s just done such incredible things for this team.

“And we’ve seen the skill that he has and the numbers that everybody sees but the heart and soul and effort that he’s brought to the side and largely led through that for so long has been incredible. It was quite a special week for that reason and I think he had a really amazing time sharing that with the side,” he added.

Speaking further, Kane Williamson also spoke about Wagner’s celebration against South Africa. He insisted that Wagner’s celebration was a result of a banter between him and fellow fast-bowler Tim Southee.

“Those guys are great mates and have been and will continue to be,” Kane Williamson said. “That was banter in the dressing room with Waggy and his fielding so he ended up putting him down at fine leg. So to get a catch was quite amusing.

“So Waggy took his opportunity. I think he thinks that obviously out of context [and] it doesn’t look great, but it was a little bit humorous at the time and all the players understood the context,” he added.

When asked about the mood in the dressing room, the veteran batsman stated: “Yeah, quite good. Something that we’re always trying to improve and evolve as a team. And it’s something we’ve tried to do for years. You always have different transitions and players come and go, support staff come and go.

“[Taylor] might know more than me, I’m not sure. But I see guys that are giving everything, trying to get better as a team, trying to move the team forward and that’s really a focus for us,” he added.

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Kane Williamson Neil Wagner New Zealand national cricket team NZ vs AUS 2024 Ross Taylor