I had no involvement in captaincy change - McCullum
Brendon McCullum, who took over as New Zealand captain under controversial circumstances after Ross Taylor refused an offer to remain as the leader of the Test team in a split-captaincy scenario, has said he is concerned for his predecessor as well as the team ahead of a tough tour of South Africa. Taylor has asked for a break and will not be travelling to South Africa.
"I'm more concerned now with how the team is handling the situation and where we go from here - how we try and galvanise the unit, rather than my own individual accolade of picking up the captaincy," McCullum told reporters at a press conference in Lincoln. "I'm obviously worried for Ross and how he is dealing with things at the moment, and obviously how we try and ensure that we pull together this team inside a very short space of time for what is going to be an incredibly tough tour."
McCullum said he had been in touch with Taylor, who said on Friday he felt he never had the support of New Zealand coach Mike Hesson. "I've spoken to him a couple of times - two days ago and then left a message with him again this morning - but he obviously needs a little bit of space at the moment as well, and I thought he did a really good job yesterday with the media of being able to deal with some tough circumstances," McCullum said. "Ross is an integral member of this team and he's vitally important to us in terms of how we're going to try and increase our performances. He's also a very popular member of the team as well and there's a lot of guys that will be feeling for him at the moment - we will welcome him back when he's good and ready.
"I know it hasn't been a great process with the way it's unfolded and I know there is a lot of anger towards it.
"I guess from our point of view, we now need to try and move forward and 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."
McCullum was upset at speculation that he may have had a role to play in the entire episode. "That's probably the thing that has come out through this week that's annoyed me the most. I guess that cuts right to the bone that someone would question your integrity and your character like that.
"I guess it's been mentioned on a number of occasions and to be totally honest, it is highly insulting, for people to cast aspersions when they certainly don't know the full circumstances.
"From my point of view, I had absolutely no involvement in that recommendation whatsoever. I was asked if I would lead the one-day and Twenty20 teams two days ago, and then yesterday I was asked if I would lead the Test team, after Ross turned it down so about as much involvement I've had in this situation."
Relations between Taylor and himself, McCullum said, were very good. "It's only really been media hype and fiction over the last 16 months, since the captaincy selection of Ross, which tried to drive a wedge between Ross and I.
"In terms of the public profile, we've got a very good and respectful relationship. We know each other, we've played with each other for a very long time and we know each others families."
McCullum hoped to welcome Taylor back to the New Zealand side and sympathised with Taylor for the situation he finds himself in. "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, but you know that as long as, through your dealings, that you are honest and you maintain your integrity throughout, then you can look yourself in the eye and know that you're doing the right thing.
"Now Ross is going through some tough times and my thoughts are with him.
"When he is good and ready to come back, then we'll certainly welcome him back, and I'll be looking to help him as much as I possibly can to reach the standards he wants to reach in this game, to be an integral member of this team and play a vital part in that."