WELLINGTON Dec 5 Former captain Daniel Vettori is almost certain to miss New Zealand's tour of South Africa later this month because he has not recovered sufficiently from a troubling Achilles injury.
Vettori has not yet been officially ruled out of the tour by New Zealand Cricket, but his Australian Twenty20 franchise, the Brisbane Heat, said they had been advised that the all-rounder would be unable to play for at least six weeks.
"Dan had a setback over the weekend and despite his best efforts, he is highly unlikely to be ready in time for our ... matches, which is very unfortunate for him, as we know how hard he has worked to be ready," Heat General Manager Andrew Blucher said in a statement.
"We wish him a speedy recovery and trust he is back playing soon."
The Australian Twenty20 "Big Bash" tournament begins on Friday, while New Zealand's tour of South Africa starts on Dec. 18 and runs until Jan. 25.
New Zealand's squad for the two test, three one-day, three Twenty20 match tour, had been expected to be named earlier on Wednesday but has been delayed until Friday as speculation swirls around the captaincy of Ross Taylor.
Local media have reported that Taylor's captaincy has been questioned by a group of players and that Brendon McCullum, who was a candidate for the job when Taylor succeeded Vettori after the 2011 World Cup, was likely to be named in his place.
Fairfax newspapers had reported that McCullum was expected to be given the captaincy of the limited overs side, while Taylor retained the test captaincy.
Television New Zealand, however, reported on Wednesday that Taylor may not even go to South Africa and NZC Chief Executive David White, whose delayed return from an ICC meeting in Dubai was one of the reasons why the team announcement was pushed back to Friday, refused to answer questions about the captaincy.
Media reported that White's recommendation to the NZC board was required before a change could be made to the captaincy.
Taylor took to the social networking site Twitter to try to dampen down speculation.
"A lot of speculation out there," he wrote on his Twitter account. "I have heard from the CEO once. I haven't made any decisions. At no time have I given NZC any ... ultimatums about (coach Mike) Hesson or Me or South Africa."
The New Zealand side have had a terrible run of results in 2012, despite winning the second test of their series against Sri Lanka last month in which the aggressive right handed batsman led from the front with scores of 142 and 74.
Prior to that victory, New Zealand lost test series at home to South Africa, and away to West Indies and India, as well as the first test against Sri Lanka by 10 wickets.
They also crashed out of the World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka at the Super Eights stage and had lost 10 of their 14 completed one-day internationals this year.
Taylor's batting average, however, had actually improved since he took over the captaincy. In his 13 test matches as skipper he scored 1,047 runs at 49.85 with three centuries, while he had a career average of 43.57 in 43 tests overall.
In one-day internationals, Taylor had scored 795 runs in 20 matches as skipper at an average of 46.76, while he scored 3,408 runs in 116 ODIs at an average of 37.86 overall. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)