Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum has lauded Kane Williamson for taking the side to unprecedented success in Test cricket and believes that the right-handed batter has left the team in a better position than what it was under his time as skipper.
On Thursday, Williamson stepped down as Test captain of the New Zealand team, bringing the end to his time in the role for six years, when he took over from McCullum in 2016.
Under Williamson, New Zealand played in 40 Tests, winning 22, drawing eight and losing 10 matches (also two ending as no-result) and took the team to winning inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) in Southampton in June 2021.
"He took the Blackcaps to unprecedented success, he brought so much consistency of high performance (in) that side, right throughout all forms of the game he's achieved so much," said McCullum on SENZ Mornings radio show.
"He's done it in such an understated kind of a Kane Williamson, relaxed manner and I think he's been able to inspire fans not just from New Zealand to play cricket but also around the world there's lots of people who consider Kane Williamson's Blackcaps side as their second favourite team because of how they carry themselves and what they achieve."
He's left the cap in a much better place, or the blazer as it is, when it comes to the New Zealand captaincy position. He's left the blazer in a better position than he found it, which was obviously off me. He's done a remarkable job and I look forward to sitting down with him at some stage and opening a nice bottle of wine and toasting to everything that he's achieved," he added.
Though McCullum admitted to being surprised over Williamson leaving Test captaincy, he explained why the Tauranga-based batter stepped away from the role, with veteran pacer Tim Southee now appointed as the New Zealand skipper in Tests.
"I didn't think Kane was ready to step away just yet even though there'd been a couple of conversations recently. He sort of was trying to work out how to relax his workload a little bit. But I guess there's two parts to it: one is I think Tim Southee will do a fabulous job and he'll get all the support in the world from Kane as a foot soldier now, just as Tim gave everything that he could as a foot soldier to Kane in his captaincy.
I think the second part is what an amazing job Kane did as captain of the Blackcaps for as long as he did," he said. The 34-year old Southee has led New Zealand in 22 T20Is and has served as Williamson's deputy alongside opener Tom Latham in the last few years.
McCullum, currently England's Test coach, expects Southee, currently New Zealand's third-highest wicket-taker in history of the game, to lead the side through an aggressive and free-flowing brand of cricket.
"I think he'll do a fabulous job. I think it's a really good appointment, to be honest. I know obviously I'm on tour elsewhere and we're going to come up against New Zealand in six weeks' time or something but I think it's a really good appointment," said McCullum.
"(I'm excited to watch) how Tim goes about it because he's got a very aggressive cricketing mind as well and he'll want to play the game in a free-spirited way too so it'll be fascinating. It's exciting albeit there's a tinge of sadness for New Zealand as well," he added.
Southee's first assignment as Test captain will be a two-match tour of Pakistan, starting from the first match in Karachi from December 26-30, followed by the second Test at Multan from January 3-7. Both matches are a part of the World Test Championship (WTC) cycle.