Axed Black Caps skipper Ross Taylor could be back playing first-class cricket as early as next January.
Taylor, who withdrew from the Black Caps team for the upcoming tour of South Africa due to being stripped of the one-day and Twenty20 captaincy, has stated his desire to take a "break" from cricket in the near future, and spend time with his young, Hamilton-based family.
The 28-year-old, whose axing as Black Caps captain has been a PR disaster for New Zealand Cricket, has already stated his desire to be available for when England, the No 2-ranked test team, tour New Zealand in February and March.
Taylor's province, Central Districts, will play six domestic Twenty20 matches between January 1 and 15 next year.
They then pull on the whites for a Plunket Shield encounter against Canterbury at McLean Park in Napier, starting on January 24.
The clash looms as a potential return to cricket for Taylor, if he decides not to play any of the shorter-form games.
Central Districts coach Alan Hunt, who has been in contact with Taylor for "support", expects to see the former Black Caps skipper in the new year, but is not yet sure when, and in what form of the game.
"In terms of when and if he comes and plays, without knowing for sure, he's indicated he's going to play cricket against England and that tour when they come," he said.
"That means he has to get good preparation for that and that would mean playing games, and playing domestic cricket."
"We expect to see him. I don't know when - we'll leave that to him. We'll give him some space, and hopefully he'll spend some time with his family over Christmas, and who knows, we might see him in the New Year.
"Nothing's definitive at this stage, and we're going to let him tell us when he's ready."
Hunt expressed disappointment at the way Taylor was treated.
"He's a CD man through and through, he loves coming back and playing and we've got huge respect for him as a person, as a player and as a leader," he said.
- Sunday Star Times
With the World Cup just around the corner, how do you think the Black Caps will go?