Ross Taylor is expected to be axed as New Zealand captain when the Black Caps' squad to tour South Africa is announced this week following a string of disappointing results, reports said Tuesday.
Coach Mike Hesson had lost faith in Taylor and was set to replace him with opener Brendon McCullum, Wellington's Dominion Post reported.
Taylor, who took over as skipper in June last year, faced heavy criticism when New Zealand threw away a commanding position and crashed to a 10-wicket defeat in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle last month.
While the 28-year-old steered the Black Caps to a series-levelling win in the second Test in Colombo, scoring 142 in the first innings, the New Zealand Herald said several senior players favoured a change of leadership.
It cited a source as saying that ongoing speculation over the captaincy "makes it harder for everyone -- it is almost untenable at the moment".
McCullum was Taylor's main rival when spinner Daniel Vettori stepped down as captain last year and is seen as a more attacking option than the incumbent.
New Zealand have lost seven of 13 Tests under Taylor's captaincy, winning four and drawing two.
Two of the wins were against lowly Zimbabwe, with the highlights of his tenure a rare Test victory over Australia in Hobart in December last year and the 167-run victory over Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Over the same period, the Black Caps have lost one-day series to South Africa, the West Indies and Sri Lanka, with their sole series win against Zimbabwe.