Williamson returning to Gloucs
Kane Williamson is to return to Gloucestershire as overseas player for the first half of this season and will be replaced by another New Zealander for the rest of the campaign.
The 21-year-old batsman represented the county for the vast majority of last season and is again available for all competitions until his likely participation in New Zealand’s tour of the West Indies during July and August.
Williamson averaged 36 in last year’s LV= County Championship and has since progressed in all formats, scoring an unbeaten century versus South Africa in his last innings to save the Wellington Test.
He will not be available for the first three championship games of this season, but is scheduled to arrive in time for the match with Glamorgan from April 26.
Williamson should take part in most, if not all, of the Gladiators’ Friends Life t20 campaign. His replacement by a countryman is thanks to an agreement with the New Zealand Cricket Board.
Gloucestershire director of cricket John Bracewell told the club’s website: "I'm delighted Kane is returning and only wish we had him straight away for our opening three championship fixtures.
"He is taking an enforced holiday because of the amount of cricket he has been playing for New Zealand, but we will have him for the T20 as well as some four-day games and he proved a very good fit in our dressing room last season.
"Since then he has developed in all three formats of the game for the New Zealand side and that reflects great credit on him, as well as showing the benefit of his time with us.
"When Kane leaves the probability is that we shall get another New Zealand contracted player, but one who hasn't made the tour party to West Indies."
Skipper Alex Gidman added: "He was a really good addition to the squad last year and is a class act, who has obviously improved this winter, as his century against South Africa proved.
"I see his arrival as a bonus because we already have a very talented pool of players. It may be a relatively small and young squad, but I am excited by the ability within it.
"Kane has a great work ethic. He wants to bat for as long as he can and score as many runs as possible and that rubbed off on all of us last summer."
Chief executive Tom Richardson said: "Kane will fit in seamlessly. He contributed a lot off the field as well as on it last year and on the back of his hundred against South Africa and some great catches we will be delighted to see him back."
A spokesman for New Zealand Cricket added: "We are pleased to again have the opportunity to work with Gloucestershire to develop our next generation of international cricketers.
"This partnership provides New Zealanders with the opportunity to play in and experience the pressures of a world-class competition on a day to day basis, which can only assist them in their transition to becoming successful international players."