England news January 16, 2014

Taylor aims to be the face of change


It is a good time to be a player on the fringes of the England Test team. There is clamour for change following the Ashes whitewash and with reformation imminent the England Lions programme has never taken on such value.

Untried is now better than overexposed. Potential is preferred to experience. The Lions' tour to Sri Lanka for three unofficial Tests in February has become as wide a shop window as most of the players will have enjoyed.

Only five of the party have previous Test experience. James Taylor is one of those. An attractive strokemaker, his debut against South Africa at Headingley was presented as the arrival of a player earmarked for England for some time but two Tests into his career and he was back on the heap of alternatives. Two ODIs is the only other international cricket on his CV.

"Those Tests were a dream come true but it was a short dream," Taylor said at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough, the heating on full blast in an attempt to create the conditions of Kandy, Dambulla and Colombo. "Obviously I wasn't selected for the next tour but sometimes you have to take a step back to take two steps forward and I feel I've definitely learned so much from that little experience.

"I came back last year and scored the runs I did, then again I was frustrated not to get picked on the Ashes trip. So I've kind of been batted down a couple of times but that inspires me more to get up and show them what I can do and prove people wrong.

"I've had a little taste but I haven't really been around the squad for a long time. I think that's the key, so I want to be get on a tour and show what I can do over a long period of time."

Taylor was a victim of a stable England set up that produced much success. He was not required for the India tour and a 2-1 success suggests the tour party was selected perfectly. But with the old era seemingly concluded with the Ashes humiliation and as many as seven players from the squad having potentially played their last Test, England may no longer have the riches to overlook much longer a 24-year-old with a first-class average of 47.35.

Dejected at being omitted from the Ashes squad after a summer where his first-class average was a shade under 50, Taylor travelled to Perth to play club cricket and met England one-day coach Ashley Giles. Team director Andy Flower was also in touch. "Positive" was the theme of the conversations. Flower, batting coach Graham Gooch and new national selector James Whitaker will all be in Sri Lanka at some stage.

Advice also came from an unexpected source with Mickey Arthur, deposed as Australia head coach before the Ashes in England, lending his ear via Stephen Eskinazi - a friend of Taylor's from Perth who spent last season with Middlesex second XI.

"It wasn't planned," Taylor said about his one-to-one meetings with Arthur, now director of cricket at a grammar school in Perth. "It came about in a funny way but it was great and very worthwhile. To be around a world class coach, somebody who has worked with the best players and have him comment on my game was very positive."

Arthur came to watch every game Taylor played for first-grade side Claremont-Nedlands, where 40 degree sunshine topped up his blond highlights. Taylor averaged 60.60 in six innings, the best of which - 101 not out - came from the same No. 4 slot from where he scored a century against Australia for Sussex last summer as he crept towards Test selection again.

But England could have an opening one place higher with Jonathan Trott's future unclear and a lack of obvious alternatives. Naturally, Taylor is happy to slot in anywhere in the Test side and makes a strong case for himself.

"I will back myself to the hilt. I know I can do it - I obviously had a little taste against South Africa but I've played against a lot of international attacks and scored runs against them. So hopefully, fingers crossed, I get an opportunity. But not just in Test cricket, I want to be playing one-day cricket as well. I've got a little bit of a record behind me but I now need to kick on and show people what I can do.

"It is literally as simple as scoring runs. If I don't score runs, I don't warrant being in the team. That's what came across to me. I've got to make sure the selectors can't not pick me. At the moment, even though I've scored shed-loads of runs, I've probably given them a little bit of an excuse because I haven't gone above and beyond, more than the guys in the Test team at the moment.

"But I'm in a great space. My game's in a great spot. I scored the runs last season in all formats and hopefully this Lions trip is a great opportunity to stake a claim for next summer."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 19, 2014, 5:52 GMT

    And of course he was unluckily run out in his last test innings via Jonathan Trott! if he does well in SL and then performs in county cricket he should be given a chance.

  • Dummy4 on January 17, 2014, 18:10 GMT

    Not sure whats taking England so long? The guy averages 50 in both the longer formats of the game and has done for yonks. He's busy, compact, runs hard and fast between the wickets and gives it a belt if he so wants. Plus he stood up well against South Africa in support for Pietersen.

  • Dummy4 on January 17, 2014, 15:10 GMT

    Not sure he's really done enough to earn a call-up. Averaging 60 in grade cricket is a bit like averaging 42.93 in County Championship Division 2. Oh! Wait! I forgot that that's also better than averaging 50.05 in Championship Division 1. It's about time politics were removed from England selection and cricketing quality and ability were valued properly.

  • Jason on January 17, 2014, 7:59 GMT

    I really hope that Taylor is brought in for the whole of the summer, providing he has a good Lions tour and start to the season. Who should make way, good question, I would drop Carberry and let Root settle at 2 over the summer, so a summer XI might line up like

    Cook, Root, Bell, KP/Ballance/Taylor, Prior/Bairstow, Stokes, Broad, Anderson/Finn/Onions/Rankin, Briggs/Borthwick/(?)

    A lot will depend on whether england decide to persist with an allrounder and a 5-1-5 or go back to a more solid 6-1-4. Spin is the biggest issue for england to resolve, followed by the future of KP.

    After Aus, Only Bell, Stokes and Broad pick themselves. The england management also need to look long and hard at the captaincy, and getting cook practical experience at the start of summer and speaking to former captains like Brearley/Vaughan/Nass. They also need to try and give Cook more time after the toss if they are put into bat.

  • Peter on January 17, 2014, 3:26 GMT

    Out: KP, In: Taylor Out: Anderson, In: Finn

    If they had done this at the start of the most recent Ashes debacle England would still have lost the series but they would not have been belted from pillar to post

  • $$ milind on January 17, 2014, 1:51 GMT

    Might be better than Joe Root but looking him against RSA seemed quite undercooked. I hope his front-foot play could improve and he still for me is a fine player in the making.

  • Stephen on January 16, 2014, 20:25 GMT

    @OhhhhhMattymatty...now there's a thought! If your team played the current England side I'd do my very best to get to the game, there would - or should - be a lot riding on it! It would be a cracker! Come on,ECB - you know it makes sense!

  • Peter on January 16, 2014, 20:23 GMT

    These players should be told if they want to be considered for England then they need to be playing in division 1. I've had enough of these flattering statistics of division 2 players leading to call ups.

    If you want to be in the England team play against the best and prove yourselves.

    Taylor is actually someone who did just that and his example needs to be followed. Team England should make it very clear to all players wanting to play for England

  • Paulo on January 16, 2014, 19:35 GMT

    An outstanding batsman in county cricket who more than deserves his chance. Good career stats and had an amazing 40 over season (averaged 80 for most of it). Has been treated horribly by England (not the only batsman). Was in the test side vs South Africa then forgotten about for a year, depsite having played just 2 tests. In the squad as KP cover for the Old Trafford test then mercilessly ignored for the ashes tour. Has only played 2 odis, both in Ireland.

    Could be a number 3 in ODIs. Can bat through and dominate (eg hundred vs Hampshire on sky). Excellent fielder. In tests would just slot into the middle order. In my opinion he has to play.

    @salazar555 "Why not show the squad at the bottom of the piece?" agree with you there.

  • Ohhhh on January 16, 2014, 18:16 GMT

    There's no doubt an England 2nd XI would comfortably beat an England 1st XI at the moment.

    Robson, Compton, Bopara, Taylor, Ballance, Morgan, Bairstow(wk), Borthwick, Jordan, Finn, Onions.

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