Southee to captain NZ Test side as Williamson steps back

Fast bowler Tim Southee takes over from Kane Williamson who has stepped back from leading the Test team to focus on his batting and leading the white-ball sides

Tim Southee will become the second front-line fast bowler currently captaining a Test side after he was named as New Zealand's new skipper today, replacing Kane Williamson.

Williamson, who captained the Black Caps Test side 40 times for 22 wins, 8 draws and 10 losses since taking over from Brendon McCullum in 2016, will continue to be the country's ODI and T20I captain.

New Zealand have seen a rash of players turn down central contracts to persue riches on the T20 league circuit, but Williamson has reiterated his desire to play all three formats internationally.

Southee, who played 346 internationals and already captained the T20 side on 22 occasions, will become New Zealand's 31st Test captain when he leads the team on this month's Test tour to Pakistan.

He joins Australia's Pat Cummins as the only other front-line fast-bowling captain currently in operation for Test teams.

Tom Latham has been confirmed as Test vice-captain. The opener had previously captained the Test side in Williamson's absence.

"Captaining the Black Caps in Test cricket has been an incredibly special honour," Williamson said. "For me, Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game and I've enjoyed the challenges of leading the side in the format.

"Captaincy comes with an increased workload on and off the field and at this stage of my career I feel the time is right for this decision.

"After discussions with NZC, we felt that continuing to captain the white-ball formats was preferable with two World Cups in the next two years.

"I'm excited to support Tim as captain and Tom as vice-captain. Having played with both of them for most of my career, I'm confident they'll do a great job.

"Playing for the Black Caps and contributing in all three formats is my number one priority and I'm looking forward to the cricket we have ahead."

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NZ coach Gary Stead said Southee's appointment reflected the direction in which the Test team wanted to head.

"Tim's a quality leader with a good cricket brain," Stead said.

"We've seen his captaincy skills on display with the T20 side and I'm sure he'll continue to bring an aggressive style, whilst still maintaining the core fundamentals of how this team operates in the Test arena.

"He will also come from a slightly different perspective in being a bowler which I'm sure will also bring with it new ideas and fresh thinking."

Southee said it was humbling to be asked to lead the Test side.

"It's been a surreal few days and it's just a massive honour to be appointed as Test captain," he said.

"I love Test cricket, it's the ultimate challenge and I'm really excited by the opportunity to lead the team in this format.

"Kane's been an outstanding Test captain and I'm looking forward to working with Gary on how we can build on that."