New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum expects Ross Taylor to respond to the captaincy saga with a world-class performance on his return to international cricket at Eden Park tomorrow.
Taylor will bat No 4 for the Black Caps in the first Twenty20 international against England at 7pm in his first match for his country since November 29 when he led New Zealand to a memorable test victory over Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Intense interest has surrounded Taylor's return to the side and his clear the air meeting with the coach who sacked him, Mike Hesson, but McCullum doubted the drama would affect Taylor when he strides to the crease.
"He's come back in and he was smiling and happy and a definite part of the group. Ross is a fabulous cricketer and he's shown that so far in his career, his ability to step up time and time again on the international stage," McCullum said at today's pre-match press conference.
"That's what he expects of himself and that's what we expect from him as well. There are certainly no issues as far as we're concerned."
McCullum reiterated his relationship with Taylor remained solid.
"As Ross and I have stated in the media there was never really an issue between us. It was obviously an uncomfortable time for Ross and other people concerned. As far as our relationship goes we're fine and looking forward to playing together."
But the same doesn't go for Taylor and Hesson, with the former describing their relationship this week as a "work in progress", without expanding on what was said in their meeting.
McCullum said he hadn't delved too deeply into the fallout and aftermath between coach and his former skipper.
"I'm not qualified to answer that because it's their separate issue. But they seem to be working professionally together as well and I'm sure over time everything will be healed."
McCullum said the Taylor issue was discussed as a team in South Africa, a tour Taylor chose to sit out, but there was no need for the squad to address it further as a group.
"It has played out on the outside and within the team it's been dealt with really well. Everyone is fine. Ross has come back and fitted in seamlessly and we're expecting a big performance out of him. It's good to have him back in the fold."
England captain Stuart Broad didn't expect Taylor's performance to be adversely affected by the saga.
"We know he's a world-class player and he's played fantastically against England many time. We know the dangers he offers and we'll prepare for Ross as we will for all their players."
A bigger issue for the home side were injuries to all-rounders Ian Butler (ankle) and Grant Elliott (quadriceps) which ruled then out of tomorrow's game. South Africa tourist Jimmy Neesham was recalled to the squad today, while Butler and Elliott will both be considered for game two in Hamilton on Tuesday.
McCullum confirmed he would bat No 3 tomorrow, with Martin Guptill opening with debutant Hamish Rutherford who would be given licence to take an aggressive approach at the top.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Hamish Rutherford, Brendon McCullum (captain), Ross Taylor, Colin Munro, James Franklin, Andrew Ellis, Nathan McCullum, Trent Boult, Roneel Hira, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jimmy Neesham (one to be omitted).
- © Fairfax NZ News