Cricket: McCullum's mixed emotions on promotion

By Kris Shannon

New Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum says this is hardly how he wanted the job, but maintains he had no role in the dumping of Ross Taylor.

A bad week for New Zealand Cricket came to an unfortunate end yesterday, when it was announced Taylor would be taking a break from cricket following coach Mike Hesson's decision to strip him of the one-day and Twenty-20 captaincy.

Taylor was offered the chance to remain as test skipper but he declined that opportunity, handing McCullum the role in all three forms.

Hesson's close relationship with McCullum was seen by many as one reason behind his promotion, but McCullum denied he was complicit in any way in the captaincy coup.

"No, absolutely not," he said. "That's probably the thing that's come out this week which has annoyed me the most. That cuts right to the bone, that someone would question your integrity and question your character like that.

"To be totally honest, it's highly insulting for people to cast aspersions when they certainly don't know any of the circumstances. I had absolutely no involvement in that recommendation whatsoever.

"I was asked if I would lead the one-day and Twenty20 team two days ago, and then yesterday I was asked if I'd lead the test team after Ross turned it down. That's about as much involvement as I've had in the entire situation."

McCullum said he spoke on the phone with Taylor two days ago and left a message with him this morning, and he stressed the pair had a strong relationship.

"It's only really been media hype and fiction over the last 16 months, since the captaincy selection of Ross, which has tried to drive a wedge between Ross and I. We've got a very good relationship, a very respectful relationship. We've played with each other for a very long time, and we know each other's families."

With Taylor's return to the team, expected to be for the home series against England this summer, fraught with difficulty considering his strained relationship with Hesson, McCullum said he would do his utmost to ensure the Black Caps' best batsman would be made welcome.

"Ross is an integral member of this team and he's vitally important for us in terms of how we're going to improve our performances. He's also a popular member of the team so there's a lot of guys who will be feeling for him at the moment. We'll welcome him back when he's good and ready."

Becoming New Zealand's 28th test captain is something of a dream job for McCullum, but he said the circumstances have somewhat soured the experience.

"They're obviously not very good circumstances at all. It's been a pretty trying time all week for all parties involved," he said. "But I don't want to sit here and talk about how hard it's been on me because it's certainly been a lot harder on other people."

With a testing tour to the world No 1 South Africa set to be his first task as captain, McCullum knew he could not dwell on events of the last week for long. Along with getting his team ready for the challenge of the Proteas, McCullum said there were also bridges to build with the cricketing public.

"I'm more concerned with how the team's handling this situation and where we go from here," he said. "We now need to try to galvanise this unit, move forward and try to get some faith back into this team and build some rapport with the public, because that's obviously taken a hit over the last seven days."

- APNZ

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