New Zealand 'very confident' Williamson's elbow will recover: Stead

The 31-year-old Williamson has carried the tendon injury for over a year, forcing him to miss plenty of cricket.

Williamson is targeting a return for short format matches against the Netherlands from late-March though his Indian Premier League commitments with Sunrisers Hyderabad could influence that.   -  GETTY IMAGES

New Zealand has brushed off concerns that captain Kane Williamson could be permanently plagued by his long-standing elbow injury.

Batsman Williamson was ruled out of the two-Test series against South Africa scheduled for later this month after having to sit out the series against Bangladesh.

The 31-year-old has carried the tendon injury for over a year, forcing him to miss plenty of cricket.

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"We are very confident it will get right completely," New Zealand head coach Gary Stead told New Zealand media on Tuesday.

"A lot of tendon injuries like this, they do linger for a while. At the moment, he has been somewhere around 14-15 months.

"They say they are usually gone in about 18 months' time, so let's hope that is the case with Kane."

Stead said surgery was not an option for Williamson, who rather needed "gradual and consistent loading" to get back to full fitness.

"He's back batting, he's batting for periods of 20-25 minutes this week," he added.

"But the thought of him batting for four or five hours in a test match probably means a good chance he goes backwards again."

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Williamson is targeting a return for short format matches against the Netherlands from late-March though his Indian Premier League commitments with Sunrisers Hyderabad could influence that.

Stead said it was still too early to tell where and when the skipper would return for New Zealand.

With Williamson resting and veteran batsman Ross Taylor now retired from international cricket after the Bangladesh series, New Zealand is short of 198 tests of experience.

Stead confirmed stand-in captain Tom Latham and Will Young will open the batting against South Africa, with Devon Conway at number three, but declined to nominate a number four to replace Taylor.

Left-hander Henry Nicholls and seven-Test all-rounder Daryl Mitchell are seen as leading candidates to slot in for Taylor.

"Whoever gets that (chance) I'm sure will make the most of it," Stead said.

"I think when you look at guys like Will Young and Daryl Mitchell and the way they've entered the test arena, it's hard to argue that it's not their time now."

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