Follow the Investec Test series on ecb.co.uk – click here for all the latest news, exclusive interviews, video highlights and match reports
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum and senior batsman Ross Taylor are due to arrive in England earlier than expected after being granted dispensation by their Indian Premier League sides.
The pair, who each have lucrative IPL deals, were not initially expected to arrive on the tour until after the completion of this weekend’s three-day warm-up match against Derbyshire.
But McCullum, who has played just once for the Kolkata Knight Riders this year, and Taylor, who has represented Pune Warriors five times in 2013, will now have more time to get used to English conditions ahead of the two-Test Investec series.
McCullum was due to link up with the team during their training session in Derby today, with Taylor following within 48 hours.
A Cricket New Zealand spokesman yesterday said: “Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum and star batsman Ross Taylor have been released early from their Indian Premier League teams.
“McCullum will join the team in Derby later tomorrow and Taylor is expected to arrive over the weekend.”
Wicketkeeper BJ Watling, for one, is glad to have them back sooner than expected.
“It will be awesome to have them with us,” he said. “It’s great to have them around and to get into the tour. It’s definitely a huge boost.
“We’ve got plenty of time before the first Test for them to get into the groove.
“I think England will turn up strong and ready to go so we need to hit the ground running as well.”
Meanwhile, spinner Bruce Martin rates being picked to tour England as the highlight of his career and is desperate to deliver a series win to cap it off.
The slow left-armer, 33, made a long-awaited Test bow against England in Dunedin in March and went on to play all three matches of the tour in the continued absence of Daniel Vettori.
He impressed with figures of 4-43 on debut and followed up with 4-103 in Wellington as the Black Caps defied the odds to draw all three matches.
With Vettori still not considered fit enough for the longer format, Martin could get more chances to take on England at Lord’s and Headingley and he admits it is a dream come true to tour with the national side.
“It’s very exciting, at 33 years old it’s just wonderful to be playing Test cricket,” he said ahead of the Derbyshire game, which begins tomorrow.
“This is the highest moment yet for me. Every game seems to be another high at the moment and I’m just relishing every chance I get.
“Getting the chance to play at somewhere like Lord’s and against an England side ranked number two in the world is wonderful.
“I thought I’d done enough in the last series and thankfully I had.”
It would be wrong to think that Martin is simply a contented tourist, though, and he is in no doubt about what the objective is.
“If everyone does their job and plays well I think we can beat anyone in the world,” he added.
“A draw was nice but we want to do the full job this time. Hopefully we can knock them over this time.”
Keep tabs on the England team – click here for all the breaking news from the camp, exclusive interviews, match reports and much more