Bitterness created by the sacking of former captain Ross Taylor seems likely to follow the New Zealand cricket team into a demanding home series against England beginning tomorrow.
Taylor rejoined the New Zealand team in Auckland yesterday ahead of the first of three Twenty20 internationals against the tourists, to be followed by three one-dayers and three Test matches.
While he sought to be diplomatic, Taylor’s first comments to reporters suggested many of the issues created by his sacking late last year remain unresolved and that the New Zealand team may be divided.
Taylor described his continuing relationship with coach Mike Hesson, who sacked him in Sri Lanka last year, as “a work in progress.”
He suggested his relationship with new captain Brendon McCullum was less fraught, but Taylor also hinted at a fractured and factionalized New Zealand team.
Taylor refused to play for New Zealand on their recent tour to South Africa where they were twice beaten by an innings in Test matches — including a first-innings score of only 45 in the first Test at Cape Town.
New Zealand lost the Twenty20 series in South Africa 2-1, but won the one-day series 2-1. The Black Caps are in eighth place in world rankings in all three forms of the game.
England are heavily favored to win the T20, one-day and Test series, and Taylor’s inadvertent depiction of an unharmonious New Zealand team has firmed that favoritism.
When Hesson sacked Taylor four days out from the second Test in Sri Lanka, he hinted at a national team which had lost faith in its captain. However, Taylor said he retained “friends” within the New Zealand team, and suggested a separate faction had allied itself with Hesson and McCullum.
Yesterday, while Taylor was ambiguous about his relationship with Hesson, he said: “I’ve got friends in the team and I’m looking forward to playing for them, and obviously playing for management and the country as well.”
He chatted with McCullum during New Zealand’s training session in Auckland yesterday, but the interaction seemed formal, rather than relaxed.
“Have we had a beer? No, I met Brendon this morning so I’m sure we’ll go and meet up over the next couple of days somewhere,” Taylor said. “I don’t think there was anything wrong with our relationship in the first place.”