Ross Taylor axed as NZ captain; Brendon McCullum takes over

Ross Taylor

Ross Taylor was dumped as captain of the New Zealand cricket team in favour of Brendon McCullum on Friday and will sit out the Black Caps' upcoming tour of South Africa, officials said. Taylor, 28, was axed after rejecting an offer to remain Test skipper while handing limited overs duties to McCullum, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief executive David White said.

White denied coach Mike Hesson had lost faith in Taylor's captaincy after a string of poor results since taking over in June 2011, but said he was concerned the skipper's duties were affecting his batting.

"He felt it would be better for Ross to focus on his game," White told reporters. "It was felt that the workload for a young captain was a lot."

Despite his team's woes, Taylor has been New Zealand's best batsman in recent Tests, averaging 43.57, and his absence will be sorely felt against South Africa, who top the Test rankings while New Zealand are placed eighth.

"It's not ideal and we would be a stronger team with Ross in it but we respect his wishes," White said.

White said Taylor would take a break from cricket but was expected to be available for the home series against England beginning in February.

He said he regretted that Taylor's departure, which came after a review of the Sri Lanka tour, was accompanied by a week of speculation and rumour over NZC's intentions, conceding the matter could have been handled better.

Opener McCullum, 31, who will become New Zealand's 28th Test captain, is widely seen as offering more attacking tactical nous than the conservative Taylor.

But Taylor's treatment has sparked fury in New Zealand cricketing circles, with batsman Jesse Ryder tweeting this week that it "angers me watching Ross Taylor getting dumped on", and calling on NZC to support him.

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