Dumped Black Caps captain Ross Taylor will start his cricketing rehabilitation when he suits up for Central Districts on Thursday.
The four-day Plunket Shield competition restarts on Thursday, with CD playing Canterbury in Napier, and Taylor will play his first match since he was unceremoniously axed as Black Caps captain last month.
Taylor hasn't played since New Zealand's tour of Sri Lanka in November but was due to start training with CD today and would be "there with bells on", according to CD coach Alan Hunt.
"Obviously when you get a world-class player coming into the side, you're never going to turn that down," Hunt said.
"I'm pleased to have him. We can help him get back on the cricket horse and get on with it."
Taylor has been on a self-imposed exile from the national team since coach Mike Hesson dumped him as Black Caps skipper for Brendon McCullum.
Hunt said Taylor has been in the gym and hitting balls, so he will come back mentally refreshed and ready to play cricket again.
"I haven't spoken to him in the last week. This is his job, this is what he does.
"He now needs to be playing cricket to be considered for the England tour."
Taylor should slot in at No 4 in what will be a strong CD batting lineup with Jamie How, Mathew Sinclair and Carl Cachopa.
Taylor's last Plunket Shield match was against Otago at Lincoln in November, 2011. He did play against Auckland in March 2012 but left after two days for international duty and didn't bat.
Taylor's return will be a big boost as CD look to erase the memories of their poor HRV Cup campaign which saw them finish last with only two wins.
Hunt said there were no excuses for their disappointing Twenty20 effort, but everyone was looking forward to getting back into the four-day competition where CD have a 17-point lead at the top of the table.
"We just need to get mentally right after a pretty tough campaign with Twenty20.
"We need to flick the switch back to four-dayers where we're playing well."
Along with Taylor, their batting lineup is also better for the return of gloveman Kruger van Wyk from a broken finger.
But they are light in the bowling department with Andrew Lamb being rested with a hamstring niggle, Adam Milne has a shin splints-type of injury, Ben Wheeler is still recovering from a side strain and Bevan Small is unavailable with personal commitments.
Spinners Tarun Nethula and Ajaz Patel are available, while Black Caps seamer Doug Bracewell should be available for their game against Auckland next week.
"Our biggest challenge will be getting 20 wickets on McLean Park," Hunt said.
- Manawatu Standard
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