Ross Taylor is just five games away from becoming New Zealand’s most-capped international cricketer, across formats, and might end up setting the bar really high by the time he decides to quit, because the next 50-over World Cup – in late 2023 – “is definitely on the radar” for him.
Taylor, who is nearing 37, should go past Daniel Vettori‘s mark of 437 international caps during the upcoming home series (three T20Is and two Tests) against West Indies. He said he had been using the Covid-19-enforced break to think about the future, and admitted that it would be a challenge to go on for another three years to sign off at the World Cup, to be played in India.
Speaking at a press interaction after the New Zealanders reached Auckland, the venue for the first T20I on November 27, Taylor said, “2023 was going to be a stretch, I think, at the best of times, when it was (supposed to be held in) February and March. And now, the World Cup has been dragged out to October and November ’23, it’s another six or seven months to hang around.
“You’ve got to have short-term goals and long-term goals and the one-day World Cup is definitely on the radar. I might have to trim things back leading into that – I’m not getting any younger. It doesn’t mean I will make it, but, it’s definitely one of my goals.”
“To have a complete break away from that and not have the excuse to that you’ve got a game in a couple of days’ time and to be present with my family was something I’ll never forget. But, at the same time, you’re only a cricketer for a certain period of time, and I’m not getting any younger, so I’ve got to make the most of every opportunity I can”
New Zealand’s last international game was the first ODI against Australia in Sydney on March 13, played in front of empty stands, before that series was called off in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. Taylor might well have gone past Vettori’s mark had there been a normal calendar through 2020, and jokingly said, “don’t jinx it, when asked about the impending milestone.
From an international debut in an ODI – also against West Indies – in Napier in March 2006, Taylor has treaded a long path, playing 101 Tests, 232 ODIs and 100 T20Is prior to the start of the upcoming series.
“I was really happy to play one or two games for New Zealand,” he said, looking back. “I’ve still got to get there first, but my mentor, Martin Crowe, always used to say records are meant to be broken for the next guy to come beat. Whatever number of games I end up on, hopefully Kane [Williamson, who has 291 caps] and whoever comes through can beat that and keep setting the bar higher.”
Taylor was away playing the Caribbean Premier League not too long ago, and agreed that it wasn’t always easy to play in crowdless stadia, even though players were used to empty stands at domestic matches.
No fans made it “a little bit dull, almost like a warm-up game”, Taylor said. “In domestic cricket, we don’t really get a lot of people, so that hasn’t felt any different,” he said with a laugh. “(From) playing in front of nobody to having the possibility of playing in front of thousands of people, I think – that’s why you want to play for, you play for your family and friends and the fans.”
Like with many others, a break from the hectic schedule went down well with Taylor, but he conceded that he was desperate to get back to playing.
“When you’re a parent, it’s nice to have your kids around, but you’ve normally got a little bit of your mind on the game you’re playing in a couple of days’ time,” he said. “To have a complete break away from that and not have the excuse to that you’ve got a game in a couple of days’ time and to be present with my family was something I’ll never forget.
“But, at the same time, you’re only a cricketer for a certain period of time, and I’m not getting any younger, so I’ve got to make the most of every opportunity I can.”
Ishant Sharma gets stitches on bowling hand, but ‘expected to recover in time’ for England Tests
The fast bowler hurt himself while trying to stop a Ross Taylor drive on the last day of the WTC final
Sharma tried to stop a drive from Ross Taylor in what turned out to be the penultimate over of the final. He left the field with his hand bleeding, having bowled only two balls in his seventh over, with Jasprit Bumrah completing it.
“Ishant has had multiple stitches on his middle and fourth finger in his right hand. However, it is not very serious,” a BCCI official was quoted as saying by PTI. “The stitches will be off in around ten days and with six weeks left for the first Test against England, he is expected to recover in time.”
The Indian team is having a break of three weeks after the conclusion of the WTC final, which New Zealand won by eight wickets.
“The squad travelled together to London. From here they can all leave for their respective destinations within the UK for a 20-day break,” the official said.
However, once the team reassembles in London on July 14 and proceeds to Nottingham, they are unlikely to get warm-up first-class games against English county sides. They will instead play intra-squad games at the Riverside ground in Durham.
“Well, that doesn’t depend on us. We obviously wanted first-class games, which I believe have not been given to us,” Kohli had said. “I don’t know what the reasons for that are. But yeah, other than that I think our preparation time will be ample for us to be ready for the first Test.”
While it is understood that the BCCI had requested the ECB for a few practice games, the Covid-19 situation won’t allow any such plan to go ahead.
“Due to Covid-19 protocols, they will play two intra-squad four-day matches before the first Test in August,” an ECB spokesperson told PTI on Friday. Asked if there is any chance of a game against county sides, the spokesperson said, “No”.
In England, cricketers from various counties are regularly being tested for Covid-19 but are not being kept in any bubble. But the Indian team would again be in a bubble once they move to Durham.
“The domestic cricketers of England not being in a bubble is an issue for sure. That’s why the games in Durham will be intra-squad ones,” the BCCI official said.
India are currently travelling with 24 players – 20 in the official squad and four reserves – which would thus allow them to play intra-squad games.
Eng vs SL 2021 – Jos Buttler ruled out of Sri Lanka white-ball series with calf injury
Dawid Malan added to ODI squad after MRI scans reveal small calf tear
Buttler, England’s vice-captain and wicketkeeper, scored an unbeaten 68 opening the batting in the first T20I. According to the ECB, he “felt tightness and discomfort” at the end of the game and was sent for an MRI scan on Thursday morning, which revealed a small tear. He sat out the second T20I, which England won by five wickets.
England had already suggested they may use the Sri Lanka T20Is to experiment, with Jonny Bairstow moving up to open in Buttler’s absence – although he made a three-ball duck as England initially struggled in their chase of 112. Liam Livingstone, whose unbeaten 29 helped secure victory, regularly opens in T20 cricket and could also deputise.
Dawid Malan, the No. 1-ranked T20I batter, has been added to the ODI squad, with Bairstow and Sam Billings in contention to take the gloves in the 50-over format. Billings scored his maiden ODI hundred last summer and would have been vying for a middle-order berth, regardless of Buttler’s availability.
“In terms of ODIs I had a really good summer last year and averaged 83 in that format so I would be pretty disappointed if I didn’t get a gig but this team is a very hard one to get into to,” he said.
England have already secured the T20I series ahead Saturday’s third match, at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. The teams will then play three ODIs, at Chester-le-Street, The Oval and Bristol.
ENG vs SL 2nd T20I – Mickey Arthur on England and Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s head coach said he wants the batsmen to be more proactive against a world-class England attack
“Just not enough runs again,” Arthur told the BBC, when asked for his take on his side’s defeat. “We’re coming up against a really good bowling attack. They’re ranked No. 1 in the world, we’re ranked No. 9, and you can see the difference. We’ve started a journey with a young team and for us it’s about getting better, competing, learning from every game and every experience and getting better and better as we go along.
“It’s tough. We’re consistently talking about freedom, about taking the handbrake off as a batting unit. But you can only bat as well as you’re allowed to and I thought England were world-class with the lengths they hit. They put us under a lot of pressure with the bat.
“We can be more proactive and we’ve got to go back and work on that. We can walk around the crease a little bit more and try to do different things but our batters are learning all the time, particularly in these conditions. We’ve got a really exciting batting unit in our conditions but it’s about transferring those skills to conditions outside our own environment.”
“I thought we bowled really well,” he said. “Our fielding has gone up to another level. Fielding is all about attitude, it’s measurable, and I think the guys are getting better and better with that. We’re really excited with our bowling unit and we’ve got a couple of guys that are injured as well, so when we get them back we’ll be good.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
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