Peter Lampp is a sports columnist and former sports editor based in Manawatū.
OPINION: New Zealand simply cannot afford to have Kane Williamson elbowed out of cricket.
The little guy is a national sporting treasure and his presence has been a major factor in the Black Caps’ successes.
Already at the age of 31 he will have banked enough rupees to be able to retire comfortably, but we don’t want him resting.
You would think the medical marvels would have a way to cure his elbow injury which is forcing him to take worryingly long breaks from the game.
* Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson to start hitting cricket balls as he eyes South African tests
* Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson out of second test v India through injury
* Elbow injury still frustrating Black Caps captain Kane Williamson but it has improved
He was one of the world’s most avid trainers until this affliction hit; we hear he would bat, and bat and bat in the nets and that was probably his secret weapon.
We’re told he has a small tear to a tendon in his left elbow which is his important leading front elbow when it comes to batting. While a diagnosis hasn’t been shared publicly, it’s likely an acute form of medial or lateral epicondylitis, the common but awful golfers-tennis elbow injury which I reluctantly know all about.
The over-use injury probably arose from repetitively tensing the bat grip and forearm over many years, from continually stretching forward and absorbing the jarring of ball after ball upon willow.
We scribes who have tapped away on keyboards for 30 years-plus can testify to how painful a wonky elbow can be. Some of us still wear forearm braces to absorb stress on the elbow.
Doctors will say without treatment, recovery can take three to six months for natural healing. The problem with that is that cricketers, people who lift weights in the gym and aged golfers and tennis players either can’t afford to take a great whack of time off to do stretching and strengthening, or don’t want to.
Speaking from experience, the injury starts as irritation as tendon fibres fray, which is not severe enough to stop playing. So everyone keeps going until it turns into pain or they come back too soon and ping, it tears again.
As for Williamson, it’s a shame this didn’t happen to someone who is not much chop. Bigger men have bigger arm muscles to absorb the over-use.
The Black Caps skipper will miss the second test and possibly a lot of the home summer international programme with an elbow injury.
Williamson bats for marathon spells when he’s making his tons in test matches, putting greater load on the confounded elbow. He has had 89 tons in all cricket above the club game.
Sports doctors won’t, or probably shouldn’t, recommend cortisone injections which might work for three months and then the person is back in three months with a lot more pain.
Surgery can be an option in a small percentage of people, but would put Williamson out for too long.
He has been afflicted for about 18 months and to get by he has had to cut back on his net sessions.
Mentally, it must be painful for him watching from outside the ropes, a man who plays all three formats and who has scored more than 15,000 runs for New Zealand.
He missed the opening three games in the Indian Premier League with the Sunrisers Hyderabad last year and they struggled without him. They’ve retained him, presumably elbow permitting, on his $2.7 million contract which starts in April.
Williamson had to bypass the recent second test against India, and without him the Black Caps were spanked, and the three Twenty20s in India. Perhaps the Kiwis might not have collapsed against Bangladesh had their captain played at Mt Maunganui.
Let’s hope injury doesn’t force him out as it did to South African PGA Tour golfer Tim Clark, another small guy, whose left elbow kept causing him grief.
Meanwhile, those of us in Manawatū are awaiting the call-up of Williamson’s cousin, Central Districts wicketkeeper-batsman Dane Cleaver, to one of the Black Caps’ teams.
* Couldn’t resist quoting English cricket coach Chris Silverwood after his team was reduced to Ashes in the Boxing Day test at Melbourne: ”There are positives coming out of this!”
Sounds similar to the hymn book used by the current All Blacks coach.
* Caleb Clarke almost became the forgotten man last year after being the standout All Black wing the previous season. He was accepted into the sevens team for the Tokyo Olympics and then reduced to being a travelling reserve.
Perhaps the All Blacks cards which lurk at the bottom of Weet-Bix boxes reveal something. Clarke’s daily intake of Weet-Bix is a whopping 12 and yet flanker Shannon Frizell weighs a similar 108kg but he devours only five at a sitting.
Jonah Lomu used to manage 12 at a breakfast, but he was 119kg at the time. The next hungriest is midfield back Jack Goodhue with nine followed by Rieko Ioane with eight.
A dozen bix is an entire row of a box and three times as many as a normal plate can accommodate.