Taylor's bat will speak for itself on return

SIMON DOULL
Last updated 10:26 09/12/2012
Ross Taylor
Reuters
BACK IN ACTION: Ross Taylor is expected to turn out for his province Central Districts in the New Year.

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OPINION: I'm backing Ross Taylor to bounce back from this nightmare and play a major role for the Black Caps moving forward.

Taylor has been a victim of a public relations disaster. New Zealand Cricket's handling of the situation has been poor from the moment coach Mike Hesson knocked on Taylor's door in Sri Lanka to get the messy process under way through to Friday's washy explanation by chief executive David White.

I've no reason not to believe Ross Taylor's impression that he was going to be axed as captain from all three forms of the game.

If that was a miscommunication on behalf of Hesson then it's the biggest mistake he has made.

What it has cost the Black Caps is having their best batsman unavailable for the toughest tour on the circuit right now - against world No 1 South Africa in their back yard.

NZC's attempts to gain some credibility out of the scenario by trying to offer Taylor the test captaincy was always going to backfire. It was a token gesture, an olive branch, with no appeal for a strong character like Taylor.

Short-term, this is very ugly for the Black Caps because they have just lost their main supply of runs.

Long-term, I think the future is brighter. I've been strong in my belief over the last couple of weeks that Taylor would be better suited to stepping aside and concentrating on what he does best - scoring runs.

That was because New Zealand had a viable captaincy alternative in Brendon McCullum, who is now shouldered with that responsibility.

I guess the big question now is: Can Taylor return to the side and does he want to?

He's already indicated that he's keen to play the home series against England and that's a measure of the man.

Under these difficult circumstances he's doing the right thing taking a break. If he can get back into the swing of things with Central Districts and enjoy a bit of time with his family over the festive season, he'll probably feel ready to get back into the international scene where he belongs by the time England arrive in February.

Will it be hard working under Hesson again? Not necessarily. As a player, you don't have to be involved as much with the coach as you do in the captain's role. Taylor can get on with being one of the boys and scoring runs. If he needs batting advice, he'll go to his trusted ally in Martin Crowe and I don't think Hesson would have any problem with that.

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Let's make it clear that Hesson has no issue with Taylor as a player; his misgivings with Taylor are restricted to his captaincy methods.

That's Hesson's right as a coach and we can't argue with that. Hesson carries the huge responsibility of getting performance from his team. Therefore he's entitled to make his choices. It's just his method of doing that which is being questioned.

The Taylor axing overshadowed the selection of the Twenty20 and test squads named to tour South Africa and there have been some interesting selections.

They have gone with form players in the T20 squad and that's a good thing. Batsman Colin Munro and allrounders Corey Anderson and Jimmy Neesham deserve their chances.

But I'm not so comfortable with young bowlers being thrown so quickly into the T20 international scene. It's such a tough environment that's better suited to bowlers with a bit more experience.

So to have Trent Boult, Adam Milne, and to an extent, Doug Bracewell exposed is questionable.

What's good is that the new-look T20 squad provides a fresh approach after the recent turmoil. The guys will get the chance to start the tour without being caught up in the emotional baggage of the past few days.

The test squad features some talking points, as well.

It's good to see B J Watling being handed the wicketkeeping role again. He's comfortable with that and his inclusion really strengthens the batting, which is crucial.

The selectors have come up with some interesting logic in covering the predicted absence of Daniel Vettori, New Zealand's best spinner.

They justified dropping Todd Astle by saying they didn't require a leg-spin option in South Africa. Yet they have picked Bruce Martin, who turns the ball in the same direction, just in a different manner by being a left-arm orthodox spinner.

I'm happy for Bruce, a 32-year-old veteran of our first class scene since 1999, but the decision to go for a containing bowler isn't a ploy to win test matches.

Dean Brownlie was an obvious candidate for this tour and his recall was automatic once Taylor made himself unavailable.

I'm not so convinced about the decision to give Peter Fulton another chance. Is another batsman really necessary, especially with Watling giving the middle order more depth?

Fulton has been getting plenty of runs for Canterbury but he always does. It's hard to escape the feeling that first-class cricket is his level. His batting average of 20.93 from tests tends to back that up.

Someone like Carl Cachopa might have been a better option.

- Simon Doull is a former Black Cap

- Sunday News

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