Cricket: Taylor, six from Otago named to face England

Ross Taylor has been named in the New Zealand XI squad to play England in two T/20 warm-up matches.
Ross Taylor has been named in the New Zealand XI squad to play England in two T/20 warm-up matches.
Ross Taylor has been named in the New Zealand XI cricket squad to face England in two Twenty20 warmup games in Whangarei next month as he works his way back into the test side following his highly-publicised dumping as skipper.

Another notable feature of the squad is the inclusion of six Otago players.

The two teams will meet in two matches on February 4 and February 6 at Cobham Oval ahead of the three-match ANZ Twenty20 series between England and New Zealand.

Taylor hasn't played any cricket since leading the Black Caps to a test victory against Sri Lanka in November. He decided to take a break from the game when Brendon McCullum was named as his replacement as captain across all forms for New Zealand.

He returns to action for Central Districts in the Plunket Shield against Canterbury at Napier's McLean Park starting tomorrow after earlier this month making himself available for selection to play England.

"All the best to the @BLACKCAPS for the second test,'' he tweeted earlier this month.

"Looking forward to working my way back for the home series against England.''

Taylor won't captain the New Zealand XI, however. Canterbury all-rounder Andrew Ellis has been named as skipper.

Former Australian wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi has also been named in the side. Ronchi, who played four ODIs and three T20s for Australia in 2008, became eligible to play for the country of his birth earlier this month.

Jesse Ryder, who topped the run-scoring charts in the HRV Cup, is missing as he takes an indefinite break from international cricket but there are six players from the Otago team who recently won the HRV Cup.

"Obviously it's great to have Ross back in the mix and really we're excited about seeing him play again,'' national selection manager Kim Littlejohn said.

''He's a proven world-class batsman and this will provide him with a great chance to get some cricket under his belt following his break.

"It's a very strong New Zealand XI and we expect them to be competitive opponents. Nearly all of the team have previous experience on the international stage, while the likes of Nick Beard, Matt Henry, Anton Devcich and Hamish Rutherford get their first chance after showing considerable promise on the domestic scene.

"We're pleased to have Luke Ronchi available as well and, after a great HRV Cup, we look forward to watching him continue to make an impact.

"We're confident all of the players in the squad will relish the chance to play against England, with the matches a great opportunity for them to push for higher honours.''

New Zealand XI squad to play England in two warm-up Twenty20 matches at Cobham Oval, Whangarei, on February 4 and February 6: Andrew Ellis (C _ Canterbury), Anton Devcich (Northern Districts), Colin Munro (Auckland), Hamish Rutherford (Otago), Ian Butler (Otago), Jimmy Neesham (Otago), Luke Ronchi (Wellington), Matthew Henry (Canterbury), Michael Bates (Auckland), Neil Broom (Otago), Neil Wagner (Otago Volts), Nick Beard (Otago), Ross Taylor (Central Districts), Tom Latham (Canterbury).

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