Thirteen years since his first Test tour of England, he relishes another opportunity to dominate in the country
Right after his first IPL stint in 2008, where he struck at nearly 184, Ross Taylor went on his first international tour of England and cracked 154 not out off merely 176 balls in the Manchester Test. Daniel Vettori was New Zealand’s captain back then and Chris Martin was still an active cricketer. Thirteen years later, Taylor, now 37, looked back on his first tour and looked ahead to his seventh tour of England.
“It was a strange time,” Taylor recalled at Auckland airport. “I guess a lot of Black Caps were retired and I don’t think I’ve batted at four [before]. So, that was the first time that I batted at four in Test cricket. Being one of the senior batsmen after five Tests was probably something strange.
“Hundred-odd Tests later, [England is] still a great place to play cricket – probably one of the best tours to go on. Obviously being in a bubble is going to be a bit strange. Thirteen years ago, fond memories of that tour and still to date one of the best innings I’ve played in Manchester in the second Test.”
Taylor had sustained a calf strain earlier this month when he was training at the high performance centre in Lincoln. Taylor had also recently suffered a hamstring injury, which disrupted the end of his home summer, but he was confident of his fitness in the lead-up to the two Tests against England and the following World Test Championship (WTC) final against India.
“Obviously you don’t want to have those little niggles and this [calf] niggle came about trying to get the hamstring right,” he said. “It’s part and parcel of being an international cricketer.
“More is made of it when you get older. If you get a calf or a hamstring injury at 32, nothing’s made of it, but when you’re 37, there’s a few more headlines, but it is what it is, and I’m comfortable with where I’m at.”
Taylor was among the second group of New Zealand players – along with Tim Southee, BJ Watling and Neil Wagner – to depart for the UK on Monday afternoon. All players will undergo a hard quarantine of three days inside their hotel rooms upon arrival.
Taylor revealed that it was the first time he had packed his golf clubs for a tour. He could potentially test them out after the quarantine at the Boundary Lakes golf course, which is located inside the Ageas Bowl.
“This is the first time I’ve ever taken golf clubs on a trip,” Taylor said. “The boys were hassling me because the last time I played golf with them, I was taking the plastic off as I was going around.
“It’ll be something different. You’re never too old to try something new, and it will be nice to get some time on your feet after having been in your room for a while.”
Taylor also reckoned Will Young‘s twin centuries for Durham against the Dukes Ball in county cricket could create a pleasant selection headache at the top of the order.
Tom Blundell, the incumbent opener, had a rough time against West Indies and Pakistan, but then hit form in the Plunket Shield, scoring back-to-back hundreds. Blundell’s Wellington team-mate Devon Conway, who is uncapped in Test cricket, is also in the opening mix.
“It’s nice to see these guys get an opportunity to play county cricket,” Taylor said of Young. “I guess before the IPL, county cricket was sort of where you cut your teeth in and learned your craft. The way Will has gone over there and got two first-class 100s, I sent him a message last night and said ‘well done’. And I’m sure he’ll be looking forward to joining the team in a few days.
“I guess it just adds another different dimension to the team. I’m sure Steady [coach Gary Stead] and Kane [Williamson] will have an idea of what their team is, but this puts another spanner in the works. I’m sure Will is there or thereabouts. It’s a nice place to be.
The upcoming intra-squad match – Team Latham vs Team Williamson – could help the team management identify the second opener behind Tom Latham. It will also be a chance for Taylor to tune up after recovering from injuries.
“I’ll go [in] Williamson team. They’ll win [laughs]. Obviously with 20 players there and then the IPL guys, a lot has happened in the last couple of weeks,” Taylor said. This was just going to be the guys who went over, where you add the IPL players to the mix I think.
“So that’ll add a little bit more spice. It’ll be nice to get a proper game but playing amongst ourselves is probably not a bad thing as well.”
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
Recent Match Report – India vs New Zealand Final 2019-2021
All the stats, analysis and colour from the title bout of the inaugural World Test Championship
‘Pleasurable for bowlers’
The pitch report is in. Simon Doull and Sunil Gavaskar see the grass and call it a “pleasurable” surface for the bowlers. There is grass, there are the overheads. And this Test might not get all five days in. So a real case for bowl first.
India’s coach Ravi Shastri has confirmed India won’t change the XI they had named. Had it rained even today, they might have thought along those lines, but there is enough depth, skill and variation, he says, for a proper Test match.
It is on time
The outfield is ready and fit. Toss in 25 minutes. The pitch looks a lot less green than it did, but then again there will be moisture retained and overcast conditions. I don’t know, I would just like to lose the toss if you ask me.
There will be cricket
Hey, you, yes you over at the weather websites and port terminals webcams. You can stop looking there for a while. The weather is dry till late afternoon, and we will get cricket. Will it be on time? We will let you know soon
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
Recent Match Report – Notts vs Derbyshire North Group 2021
Veteran allrounder becomes first Englishman to 250 wickets and 5000 runs in T20
Nottinghamshire 152 for 6 (Patel 64*, van Beek 3-22) beat Derbyshire 150 for 6 (du Plooy 58*, Reece 56, Patel 2-14) by two runs
The 36-year-old hit three sixes and six fours in an unbeaten 62 – his first half-century in the format for three years in his 110th consecutive appearance – and in taking 2 for 14 from three overs of his left-arm spin entered the record books as the first English player to complete the double of 250 wickets and 5000 runs in Twenty20 cricket.
Luis Reece hit 56 from 26 balls and Leus Du Plooy an unbeaten 58 including a six off the last ball but Derbyshire fell two runs short of their target of 153.
Ben Duckett supported Patel with 38 off 25 balls as the Outlaws totalled 152 for 6, the wickets shared equally between seamers Logan van Beek and George Scrimshaw.
Asked to bat first, the Outlaws lost top-scorers Alex Hales and Joe Clarke in the opening over, Hales leg before for a duck after van Beek’s opening delivery was called wide, Clarke well caught by Billy Godleman on the run from mid-off.
Debutant Sol Budinger confidently cut his first ball for four off Conor McKerr but was dropped at mid-off in the same over and miscued van Beek to be caught by the wicketkeeper in the next.
The Outlaws were restricted to 40 for 3 from a 4.3 over Powerplay before Scrimshaw removed Tom Moores. Duckett pulled Reece for the first six of the night but fell when Scrimshaw found some extra bounce and had him caught at backward point. Scrimshaw claimed his third wicket as Mullaney holed out to midwicket but Patel lifted Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Matt Critchley’s legspin over the rope in a 23-ball half-century and did the same to McKerr.
Derbyshire were 19 without loss after an untidy first over by spinner Matt Carter. They were checked by Jake Ball taking wickets with his first two balls as Harry Came looped to deep gully and Godleman hit straight to mid-off but Reece hit Luke Fletcher for 18 and there were sixes for both Reece and du Plooy in Ball’s second over as Derbyshire posted 61 for 2 in the powerplay.
Reece fell when he picked out Hales on the long-on boundary before Patel took his place in the record books by pinning Critchley leg before as the left-arm spinner teamed up with skipper Mullaney in stemming the flow of runs, Patel bowling Hudson-Prentice, before holding a tricky catch as Carter dismissed Brooke Guest.
du Plooy hit three sixes to take the Falcons close but ultimately not close enough.
Aaron Finch: IPL return ‘hard to justify’ for Australia players missing tours | Cricket
Australia’s limited-overs captain Aaron Finch believes it will be difficult for those players who have withdrawn from the tours of West Indies and Bangladesh justifying a return to the IPL when the competition resumes in September.
He confirmed that it had been part of long-term planning to rest David Warner and Pat Cummins from the trips, but they have been joined in staying home by Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Kane Richardson and Jhye Richardson. Allrounder Daniel Sams, who caught Covid-19 in India shortly before the IPL started, had previously taken himself out of contention for selection while Steven Smith was ruled out with an elbow injury.
Finch said he understood the mental toll that the IPL had taken on players – with the Australians enduring a complicated journey home due to border closures – but followed what national selector Trevor Hohns said last week about national duty taking priority later in the year.
“This is only my personal opinion, I think they would find it hard to justify going back and playing that second half of the IPL purely based on the workload coming up with a T20 World Cup then a huge home summer,” Finch told SEN WA when speaking to Adam Gilchrist. “It’s a tough situation everyone has been put in but personally I’d find it hard to do that knowing how challenging it is mentally and on your family.”
Although Finch knew he would be without Warner and Cummins in the coming months he admitted the overall number of pullouts had “surprised” him. Their absences have meant recalls for Dan Christian, Ben McDermott and Ashton Turner plus a maiden international call-up for pace bowler Wes Agar. It also means that Finch won’t have had a first-choice T20 team together for a year when the World Cup comes around.
“Pat Cummins and David Warner, that was a long-term plan for them that they weren’t going to go on this tour from the outset,” he said. “Having a big summer last year followed by IPL with a T20 World Cup and a view to the Ashes, guys who are playing three formats of the game it can be so brutal on them travelling and playing in bubbles.
“I was a little bit surprised [with the others]. I’ve chatted to them all. A little bit surprised but also understandable. I know from my own point of view having gone to the UK then all the way through the home summer, I know towards the end of that year I was absolutely cooked mentally. Almost when the season finished it’s a great relief so I can understand, but wish they were there.”
Australia are due to depart for West Indies on June 28 for a tour that will include five T20Is and three ODIs. They are then scheduled to head straight to Bangladesh for five further T20Is between August 2 and 10 although those matches are still awaiting final approval around the biosecure plans.
Finch will return home and complete his quarantine shortly before his wife Amy is due to give birth to their first child on September 8. He expects to be able to be at home for three or four weeks before beginning final preparations for the T20 World Cup which is due to start in mid-October and may also be shifted to the UAE.
Once he is back and through another two weeks of quarantine, Finch’s home season will begin with domestic cricket in the BBL for Melbourne Renegades. Australia’s limited-overs cricket during the summer features visits by New Zealand and Sri Lanka from late January after the Ashes.
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