Taylor's eyes opened at the WACA
To say Ross Taylor was not seeing the ball well in Brisbane would be an understatement - he was not seeing it at all.
Taylor has revealed that he had to consult an eye specialist after the Gabba Test for treatment of a pterygium in his left eye - an overgrowth of the thin clear membrane on the surface of the eye. This would be no surprise to those who saw him look completely out of sorts in the first innings of the series, and not much better in the second.
Having trained his hardest leading into the match, Taylor knew something else had to be wrong, and was relieved to find there was a medical solution. Duly cleansed by eye drops and a less intense preparation for the WACA, he went out and constructed the most prolific innings ever made by a visiting batsman in Australia.
"I had to get my eyes tested in between," Taylor said. "I couldn't really see the ball so the eye drops obviously worked. I have a pterygium in my left eye and I do that a lot [open eyes]. The optometrist said when it's dark you'll probably do this a lot [opens eyes] and I told the boys and they lost it because that's how they take the mickey out of me."
The eye issue was just one of numerous obstacles Taylor overcame in order to bat so brilliantly at the WACA, a performance that left the Australians in wonderment at his concentration and ability to efficiently take advantage of anything loose. Back in August, Taylor had suffered a serious blow to the testicles in Zimbabwe that required a trip home and surgery - he is still under doctor's instructions not to get hit amidships for another two months, a difficult assignment when faced with a fired up Mitchell Starc.
"Yes, for four months, try to not get hit - it's an interesting thing to tell a player," Taylor said of the testicular injury. "I think I've got about two months to go so I'm counting down. It's good to be hitting balls again but there's no discomfort. It's a bit nerve wracking when 160kph is coming at you but once you get into the fight the adrenalin kicks in and the instincts take over and you just bat."
Just batting was something Taylor was unable to do for anything like as long as he needed to in the lead-up to this trip. A practice fixture in New Zealand the week before departure for Australia was the first time he had picked up a bat since the Zimbabwe tour, and in the days before the Gabba, he trained hard. Perhaps too hard.
"I was out of the game for six weeks, I couldn't do anything," he said. "I was anxious, it's a big tour and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and I wanted to do well and was a bit underdone and all at sea.
"I trained pretty hard leading in but sometimes when you try too hard you don't get the results. Leading into this I let it all go to see where it took me.I'd put too much pressure on myself so I just relaxed, got on the balls of my feet and played straight. Chalk and cheese from where I was a week ago."
There had been correspondence with Taylor's longtime friend and mentor Martin Crowe also, a long email correspondence before this match and then the happy contrast of a short congratulatory text message this evening after the day's play. Along the way to 290, Taylor had also surpassed Crowe's 188 in Brisbane in 1985 as the highest Test score by a New Zealand batsman in Australia.
"I heard from Hogan [Crowe] leading into the Test match," Taylor said. "He sent me a long email. I heard a little bit from him before Brisbane. I got a text from him last night and he jokingly said he was disappointed because that was his proudest moment having the record here in Australia, 188, He was rapt - I received a text before and he's very proud."
The other major player in Taylor's story this week was Kane Williamson, the softly-spoken but quietly commanding young batsman who has led the way for New Zealand on this tour. Taylor looked on approvingly - if not comprehendingly - as Williamson showed Australia's attack could be thwarted in Brisbane, and emulated him here.
"Not only this series but the last 18-24 months every format of the game outstanding, consistent in way he prepares, his process is very meticulous," Taylor said. "It's great for the Australian public to see a world-class batter. You don't often say that in New Zealand, good example for other batters.
"Not a lot of words out there but know you're going to have to work hard to get his wicket. He took a lot of pressure off me at start. For such a young man to achieve what he has achieved, it's only the start."
Through an innings that occupied near enough to two days, Taylor witnessed numerous passages. The most thrilling was Starc's second new-ball spell on the second afternoon, when Taylor got his bat behind a ball clocked at 160.4kph. The most amusing was his rollicking last-wicket stand with Trent Boult; it ended when it was Taylor who got out short of 300 rather than his nervous partner.
"It's not easy when you come out to bat after a partnership," Taylor said of Brendon McCullum's meeting with Starc. "Brendon had to wait a long time and Starc had his tail up. Fortunately we had a little bit of luck. It was very fast and hostile and both survived seven overs straight with the new ball in those conditions, it's not easy. I'm sure that would have taken a lot out of him.
"I was disappointed not to get 300, but if you'd said at the start of the day I would have been close, I would have taken it. I feel a bit happier that Boulty didn't get out because he was so nervous out there, if he'd got out and I was close that could have broken him for a few years."
The final word on Taylor's innings can go to Adam Voges, who watched a visitor show plenty of sense in how he handled the WACA, and grew in admiration for him with each passing hour. "I wish that nick carried early yesterday," he said of an early Taylor edge. "I thought the innings he played was outstanding.
"He pounced on any width that we gave him throughout the whole innings and I think he just grew into his innings wonderfully well. He didn't really give us a sniff. I thought it was an exceptional innings. After we put on [almost] 560 in the first innings it actually gave them a bit of ascendancy back in the game. He batted really, really well."
Eyesight to the blind, and a record that will take some beating.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig