New Zealand aim to make life difficult for Graeme Swann when he returns to international cricket at Lord's this week to play his first Test against them.
Swann missed England's three-Test series in New Zealand earlier in the year after his elbow problems flared up early in the tour, extending his strange habit of avoiding the Black Caps in 50 possible Test appearances since December 2008. His replacement, Monty Panesar, failed to make much impact, taking only five wickets in 130 overs as England clung on for a 0-0 draw.
England confirmed Swann's return in place of Panesar when they announced their squad for Lord's over the weekend. But Ross Taylor, one of New Zealand's key batsmen, revealed the tourists already have plans to prevent him settling.
"He is a world-class spinner … but as a batting unit we have to be aggressive against him," said Taylor, conceding that spin has proved a problem for New Zealand. "If we can be aggressive and not let him settle hopefully we can keep the scoreboard ticking over. We played spin poorly on the subcontinent."
Taylor and his captain, Brendon McCullum, will go into the match short on batting practice, having been denied a second innings in New Zealand's last warm-up fixture against the England Lions when rain ruined the final day. Both arrived late for the tour after failing to make any impact in the Indian Premier League, and while Taylor managed 35 in the first innings at Grace Road, McCullum was dismissed for a single by Graham Onions.
Taylor believes that he is in a better mental state for the series than he was when he returned to the New Zealand team for the visit of England when the captaincy furore was still raging. On that occasion he managed only 94 runs from five innings – although he had made a more notable contribution to earlier one-day matches.
"I think I would be lying if I said it didn't have some effect," he said of the row that followed his dismissal. "I wouldn't say that was the only reason why I didn't score many runs but that's no excuse. I am paid to do a job and I didn't do that as well as I should have."
Has he moved on? "I think so. The team have been great. I had a few meetings and I'm looking forward to putting it all behind us and getting on with probably the pinnacle of a tour in England."
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