Ross Taylor has been replaced by Brendon McCullum as captain of the New Zealand Test match team and will take a break from cricket.
Taylor is reported to have refused to hand over the captaincy to McCullum who is also the skipper of the One Day International and Twenty20 sides. Taylor will not play on the tour of South Africa later this month and is unlikely to face England in the New Year.
Although this would appear to be great news for England because New Zealand are missing a key player, it could be bad news heading into their preparations for the Ashes next year. The simple reason for this is his quality and experience having played 43 Tests with an average of just over 43.
It weakens the New Zealand team which means the challenge for England will be ever so slightly easier, not what the England team wants before hard back-to-back Test contests against the Australians.
“We regret that Ross Taylor has declined the opportunity, therefore McCullum has been appointed as Black Caps captain for all three forms of the game. He thought about it long and hard and he said that he would like a break to spend time with his family and we've agreed to that and we respect it,” said head of New Zealand cricket David White as on the BBC.
Although New Zealand are a slightly weaker side than Australia, the style of cricket that each country plays is very similar. England would have preferred the strongest possible New Zealand team because this would have forced England to raise their performance levels before the five Test matches against Australia.
New Zealand have also been dealt a further blow through the news that former captain Daniel Vettori is also out of action currently suffering from an Achilles tendon injury. It all weakens New Zealand dramatically.
However, the weakened Kiwis could cause a number of England players to hit form at the right time. A number of batsmen are currently struggling for form in the series against India and the pace bowlers will have a chance to get back into rhythm in conditions which suit pace bowling in New Zealand and in England.
Hopefully this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for Taylor in terms of Test matches. Many past and present greats have had to hand over the captaincy to someone else but can still offer a great deal to their country both on and off the field. It’s one high profile Kiwi player England don’t have to worry about but one they would maybe prefer to be worrying about.