New Zealand cricket's 28th test captain has had to listen to plenty of talk about the 27th since taking over, and the two will soon be reunited when Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor take on England next month.
Taylor took his first steps back towards international cricket today after opting out of the South Africa tour when he played for Central Districts in their Plunket Shield match against Canterbury in Napier. He made only four off 26 balls before being caught behind off Ryan McCone and will hope he can spend more time in the middle before the start of next month's ANZ series with England.
McCullum previously said Taylor's integration back into the New Zealand side needed to be managed carefully but this morning said he doesn't think it will be an issue. Regardless, it would be intriguing to witness the first meeting between Taylor and coach Mike Hesson, the man who deposed him in controversial circumstances.
"It's good to see Ross back and I'm sure he will certainly get what he needs out of these games for CD and New Zealand XI," McCullum said. "That's important for him to get some cricket under his belt leading into that England series.
"In terms of how we manage his integration back into the group, we are all professionals and we all have the team's best interests at heart and are all desperate to perform for this country so that's certainly not going to be a problem."
Taylor has performed in the past. He's the world's eighth-best test batsman, averages 43.57 and scored 142 and 74 in his last test - the 167-run win in Colombo in November when he had been told by Hesson four days previously he was going to be stripped of the captaincy.
New Zealand could have done with him in South Africa and it might have made McCullum's job a little easier.
"It's been a tough tour, there's no way of hiding behind that," McCullum admitted. "It's been a great leaning experience for everyone in the group but also me from a captaincy point of view. When you are confronted with the best, you are given pretty harsh lessons of what you need to do to perform like they do.
"The emotions you go through [since being made captain]... obviously the initial one was excitement, a little uncertainty around what we are going to be confronted with and as you roll on through the tour there are times when you are probably a little vulnerable, which is never nice as an international sportsman or a person. But it teaches you many things.
"There are some things we need to improve on but to come over here and achieve history with a team missing some of its best players, there's an element of satisfaction there as well. There are a lot bigger jobs to come but [winning the one-day series] is one we will sure be proud of."
New Zealand have the chance to repair more of their battered credibility by winning the final one-day international on Saturday morning (NZT). The Black Caps created history when they beat the Proteas in the second one-day international yesterday to record their first series win in any format in the Republic and are now chasing an unprecedented series sweep.
"Hopefully we will be able to perform in the last game and, if we walk away with a 3-0 victory, that would be something we would all remember for the rest of our lives," McCullum said.
It will also help people attempt to forget details around the Taylor saga.
- APNZBy Michael Brown Email Michael