Ross Taylor still feels rusty, six innings into his cricketing comeback, but believes he's only a few sweetly hit boundaries away from returning to form.
Having been the centre of cricketing attention for nearly three months for reasons other than batting, Taylor's form will begin to fall under the microscope after two cheap dismissals in the England series so far.
New Zealand's best batsman scored 98 runs from four Plunket Shield innings for Central Districts after ending his two-month self-imposed hiatus, in the wake of the captaincy fiasco. Then in Auckland and Hamilton he faced 20 balls for scores of 13 and four on return to New Zealand duty, where he's looked scratchy and taken time to adjust to facing the white ball again.
"I've felt rusty for a while. Twenty20 is a format, especially when you bat in the middle order and you need some quick runs, sometimes you get runs and sometimes you don't," Taylor said.
"I'm only a couple of boundaries away and then the confidence goes up. You try not to think about it too much and get into it. I didn't drop a catch in the last game so that was a positive."
At least Taylor found some humour in his own misfortune at Eden Park where he dropped two catches and his team-mates another three. He said with the low lights and the grey seats in the stands it was "the hardest seeing ground in the country", and South Africa struggled there last summer as well as other domestic sides.
Taylor insisted there was no correlation between his form and feeling uncomfortable being back in the New Zealand environment under Brendon McCullum, having been removed as skipper by coach Mike Hesson.
"I didn't know what it would be like. I wasn't sure but it's been pretty good. I've fitted in really well and I've enjoyed my time back in the team. Obviously my performance individually hasn't been great but as for everything else I can't fault it." Standing at slip and not being captain was more relaxing, he said, and he was still offering advice to McCullum who was taking it on board.
Taylor said a series decider at Westpac Stadium would be an ideal time to rediscover his form. His parents were venturing over from Masterton and plenty of other relations were in search of tickets.
"Wellington is sort of my home ground as well. It depends how many tickets [James Franklin] and [Grant Elliott] take so I can sneak in a few more. My parents will be there with bells on and hopefully I can score some runs for them, although Mum came to Auckland and I didn't turn it on there."
Meanwhile, Taylor knew he would be traded from Delhi Daredevils to fellow Indian Premier League side Pune Warriors weeks ago, his fourth IPL franchise.
Taylor was signed by Delhi last year for US$1.1 million, but with a glut of quality batsmen including Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene and David Warner he was traded for Indian paceman Ashish Nehra. Australian skipper Michael Clarke is Pune's highest-profile recruit.
"I knew about it for a while. When you're only available for a certain period of the tournament and we've got injuries to a lot of our bowlers and we've got a lot of batsmen. They needed to trade to try and get a bowler," Taylor said.
Taylor will miss the latter part of the IPL, which starts on April 3, to join the New Zealand team in England just before the first test at Lord's on May 16.
And the trade means he suddenly won't be a team-mate of Jesse Ryder's. The latter was signed for US$260,000 by Delhi at the recent player auction, then Taylor had to break the bad news.
"I rang him up to congratulate him on Delhi and he said ‘I'm looking forward to playing with you' and I said ‘Sorry mate, I'm getting traded'. He [Ryder] knew probably 10min after the auction that I wasn't going to be there."
- The Dominion Post
Should Brendon McCullum open for the Black Caps?