McCullum welcomes Taylor return

  • Last Updated: February 8 2013, 12:13 GMT

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum is confident Ross Taylor is eminently capable of setting aside his controversial recent absence and returning with a significant performance against England.

Ross Taylor: Returning for New Zealand

Taylor's unavailability during the Black Caps' tour of South Africa, after coach Mike Hesson replaced him as captain in all formats with McCullum, is well-documented.

So too has been his resulting frosty relationship with Hesson.

But as New Zealand completed their preparations today for the first of three Twenty20s against England at Eden Park, McCullum insisted he and the returning Taylor are not and have never been at odds with each other.

"There's not too much to discuss from our point of view ... there was never really an issue between us," said the wicketkeeper-batsman.

"It was obviously an uncomfortable time for Ross and other people concerned. But as far as our relationship goes, we're fine.

"We're looking forward to getting out and playing some cricket together."

At numbers three and four, McCullum and Taylor are highly likely to be doing that at close quarters very soon.

There may be a little more breathing space for Taylor and Hesson, who are also back on speaking terms at least.

"They seem to be working professionally together as well, and I'm sure over time everything will be healed," said McCullum.

"Within the team, it's been dealt with really well.

"The inner sanctum of the group is working well together, and it's a cohesive unit so far. We're comfortable where it sits.

"Everyone is fine. Ross has come back into the group, and fitted in seamlessly."

McCullum points out that New Zealand simply cannot afford to allow resentment to linger and affect their performance against England.

"We can't let any off-field issues have an impact.

"We're not good enough as a team to let those sorts of distractions become so."

They are hoping that Taylor, one of the most destructive limited-overs batsmen in the world, is in the mood to take any frustrations out on Stuart Broad's tourists.

"He's come back in happy and smiling," said McCullum.

"Ross is a fabulous cricketer who has proved in his career so far his ability to step up time and time again.

"That's what he expects of himself, and we do too ... so we're expecting a big performance out of him, and it's good to have him back in the fold.

"We're looking forward to the series, and we know it's going to be a great spectacle - not just tomorrow, but throughout the summer.

"We're all pretty excited about having England on our shores.

New Zealand will be without the injured Ian Butler and Grant Elliott and have called up all-rounder Jimmy Neesham to cover those absences.


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