New Zealand will be boosted by the services of their best batsman when they face England next month, with former skipper Ross Taylor announcing his intention to return to cricket.
Taylor confirmed the end to his self-imposed exile when he wrote on Twitter he will be back playing for Central Districts in their Plunket Shield match against Canterbury on January 24.
He then said he would make himself available for selection for the series against the touring England, which begins with the first Twenty20 in Auckland on February 9.
"All the best to the @BLACKCAPS for the second test," he tweeted. "Looking forward to working my way back for the home series against England."
The news will be music to the ears of both fans and the team, which will be looking to rebound from an innings defeat in the first test when the second begins tonight.
Taylor last wore a black cap in the team's test victory in Sri Lanka in November, his final game before being dumped as captain. Coach Mike Hesson and New Zealand Cricket insisted Taylor was stripped of the arm band in only the shorter forms of the game, but the player said that stipulation was never made clear to him.
Upset at his treatment, Taylor accused someone within NZC of "definitely" lying about the affair and announced he would sit out the series against the Proteas.
He said in a statement that decision was made after "very serious thought and consideration" and the break was the right thing for him to do.
"It has been a very challenging and pressured time and I don't believe I can give 100 per cent to the game at this time," he said.
Taylor's angst was eased the following week when NZC chairman Chris Moller broke his silence and offered an apology, something the player was pleased to accept.
"I appreciate the apology from NZC today," Taylor tweeted. "Keen to put it behind me and looking forward to getting back with the team soon."
The Black Caps have suffered in the absence of Taylor - as well as the injured Dan Vettori and Tim Southee and the unavailable Jesse Ryder - losing the opening test against South Africa by an innings and 27 runs after being bowled out for 45 in their first turn with the bat.
Taylor has been a keen observer from his home in Hamilton, tweeting his support to Dean Brownlie, the man who replaced him at No 4, after the batsman's fighting century in the second innings in Cape Town.
Despite the crushing nature of the loss, Hesson said at the time he didn't believe Taylor's absence had an adverse effect on the team.
"I don't think it did," Hesson said. "We had discussed that as a group, then we had moved on. No doubt Ross batting at No 4 would have been useful for us. But that's Ross' decision and we respect that. It would be nice to have him back at some stage."
Hesson will get his wish when England, the world's second-best test and top-ranked one-day team, comes to these shores for three T20s, three ODIs and three tests.
Taylor's test average of 44 will be welcomed into a batting line-up short on consistency, but whether he will be greeted with open arms by some in the set-up remains to be seen.
It is difficult to imagine his relationship with Hesson will be anything but frosty, while it will also take some time to adjust to working under the leadership of former vice-captain Brendon McCullum.