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Brendon McCullum has been appointed New Zealand's captain in all three formats after Ross Taylor declined an offer to stay on as leader of the Test side in a split-captaincy scenario. Taylor has also chosen to make himself unavailable for the upcoming tour of South Africa, although New Zealand are hopeful he will be back in the side for the home series against England early next year.
The confirmation of the change came at a press conference in Auckland on Friday morning where David White, the New Zealand Cricket CEO, said he regretted the way the captaincy debate had played out in the public spotlight. McCullum, who has previously led New Zealand in eight ODIs and 12 Twenty20s, will become the country's 28th Test captain when the series against South Africa begins on January 2 in Cape Town.
There had been much speculation this week about the future of Taylor since the squad returned from Sri Lanka despite their impressive series-leveling victory in Colombo. In that match Taylor, who took over as captain in 2011 after being preferred to McCullum for the role, scored 142 in the first innings, but it was one of few highlights in a disappointing year for New Zealand, whose only other victory came in the first Test of the year against Zimbabwe.
They lost Test series against South Africa, West Indies and India before the draw in Sri Lanka while they have slipped to ninth in the one-day rankings below Bangladesh. They were also knocked out in the Super Eights of the World Twenty20. It was after the review of that tournament, as well as the tours of India and Sri Lanka, that the coach Mike Hesson recommended splitting the captaincy.
"Mike Hesson proposed a split captaincy that was endorsed by me as CEO and agreed by the board," White said. "The original recommendation was for Ross Taylor to be retained as Test captain and Brendon McCullum to be short-form captain. We regret that Ross Taylor has declined the opportunity, therefore Brendon McCullum has been appointed as Black Caps captain for all three forms of the game.
"I met with Ross ... for about three hours yesterday and we considered a number of different options. One of them was ... for him to go to South Africa and even just play the Test matches if he wanted to do that. But he thought about it long and hard and he said that he would like a break and to spend time with his family and we've agreed with that and we respect that. It's not ideal and we would be a stronger team with Ross Taylor in it."
Despite the change in captaincy, White said he did not believe Taylor had lost the support of his players. "I don't believe he lost the dressing room," White said. "He is well respected."
Hesson, who took over from John Wright as New Zealand's coach in July, said he wanted Taylor to stay on as Test captain and his main concern was that the leadership in all three formats was a lot for anyone to take on. Hesson said split captaincy had worked for other countries and he believed McCullum would have been the best man for the job in the shorter formats.
"Brendon certainly reads the one-day game well and is very adaptable and changes quickly," Hesson said. "The one-day game and the T20 game move very quickly. I think Brendon McCullum has attributes to really add value to our team in that area.
"Split captaincy is something that works and with the high volume of cricket around the world at the moment, for one person to take on all three forms of the game is an extremely difficult task. It's very difficult for anybody to be up to that.
"We play ten months of the year. In terms of planning from series to series it's extremely difficult, to look after your own game and worry about that of the team. Therefore my recommendation was for Ross to stay on as Test captain and focus on that, and also focus on his batting in all three forms, and for Brendon to come in as leader of the one-day and T20 squads."