Washout sees Taylor head off to leave England waiting

ENGLAND will not have an opportunity to bowl against New Zealand’s Ross Taylor before the international leg of their tour after rain washed out their first Twenty20 warm-up game yesterday.

The tourists were restricted to 9.1 overs in the field at the Cobham Oval, where their New Zealand XI opponents raced to 70-1 before the bad weather returned in Whangarei to end proceedings.

A contingency was quickly hatched to reconvene at the same venue earlier this morning (1am UK time) and then play the second of two scheduled fixtures as originally planned tomorrow.

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That, of course, is dependent on the forecast but one man who will not be involved, whatever the conditions, is former New Zealand captain Taylor.

The destructive batsman was last week picked in this squad and also for the three Twenty20s and three one-day internationals to follow this month.

But New Zealand XI captain Andrew Ellis explained that Taylor was always planning to feature only in the first of the tour matches and was set to return home to Hamilton last night.

“Ross is nipping off back home, to pack some stuff up before the tour starts, and then he’ll join the Black Caps,” said Ellis.

“Neil Broom is here, so I imagine he’ll be a direct replacement.”

Taylor has mended his broken working relationship with New Zealand coach Mike Hesson, it appears – certainly sufficiently for him to be selected again, having sat out his country’s recent tour of South Africa after losing the captaincy.

He will return under the leadership of Brendon McCullum, and Ellis at least senses a more harmonious future ahead.

“It’s always good to have ‘Rosco’ around. He’s got a big smile on his face, and he’s a happy character,” he said.

“I think everyone has combined now to move forward and attack this series as a combined unit.”

n Dale Steyn claimed match figures of 11-60 and AB de Villiers equalled a world record as South Africa completed a routine win over Pakistan in the first Test.

De Villiers matched England wicketkeeper Jack Russell’s mark of 11 dismissals in a Test – set against the Proteas in 1995 – after profiting from Steyn’s excellence as Pakistan fell well short of their victory target of 480.

Resuming day four on 183-4, the tourists were bundled out for 268 in Johannesburg as South Africa won the series opener by 211 runs.

Proteas captain Graeme Smith was delighted to mark his 100th Test in charge with a win.

“You always get a bit nervous in a milestone game, people could say that you are not totally focused,” he said.