Derbyshire v Nottinghamshire, Derby, 3rd day

Taylor accepts England challenge

Jon Culley at Derby

April 26, 2013

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Derbyshire 256 and 143 for 5 (Chanderpaul 57) trail Nottinghamshire 443 (Taylor 112, Cowan 59, Hales 56) by 44 runs
Scorecard


James Taylor reached his century after lunch, Derbyshire v Nottinghamshire, County Championship, Division One, Derby, 3rd day, April 26, 2013
James Taylor's 14th first-class century provided the platform for Notts to push for victory © Getty Images
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If Derbyshire do turn out to be the whipping boys of Division One - not that anyone should wish that upon such well-managed and progressive newcomers - then James Taylor's century in this match may not be held to be of particular value. On the other hand, if Taylor's Test career is rebooted sooner rather than later, it could be seen as an important moment.

Either way, it has put Nottinghamshire in a position of strength, with the potential to complete a victory here despite the threat of showers on the final day, especially after the fillip of Shivnarine Chanderpaul's wicket late in the afternoon, soon after he had completed his second half-century of the game and when looking absolutely set. With Wayne Madsen gone too, not much batting remains for Derbyshire to clear their arrears, let alone give themselves anything to work with.

If there is a batsman with something to prove in the early part of this summer, then it is Taylor, whose rise from pint-sized wreaker of terror among Division Two bowling attacks to Test-class middle-order batsman might have seemed inevitable to some of his admirers but when it came last August suffered a false start.

Taylor, who moved to Nottinghamshire the winter before last after scoring freely for Leicestershire, was picked when Ravi Bopara withdrew from the second Test against South Africa. It did not help his cause to find himself unwittingly caught up in the Kevin Pietersen storm, although he will not fall on that or any other excuse to explain his modest performance. It was not seen as good enough to be retained for the winter tours and his absence from the list of names in the England Performance Squad indicated all too clearly that the selectors want to see more.

Taylor, for his part, has no quarrel with that assessment. "It was a disappointment," he said. "I had a taste of Test cricket and it was amazing to get in that England side in the first place but I didn't deliver the way I wanted to.

"But I learned a lot from last season and in some ways it is good to have a setback to kick you up the backside. There is a difference in quality between second and first division. It is definitely a step up, although I don't think my own performances were a reflection of that.

"Sometimes though you need to take a step back to take two steps forward. I know where I stand with England and it is just down to me to score as many runs as I can."

In the event, it was just the mindset that was needed here, on a slow pitch that has rewarded graft. Taylor's approach was first not to get out, taking his cue from Chanderpaul. From 67 overnight, he scored only 26 more before lunch, without one boundary, negotiating 77 balls against a Derbyshire attack who maintained their discipline and again offered few easy pickings.

When his century came - incongruously from a false shot, an edge between first and second slips that brought only his fifth four - it was the slowest of his 14 so far in first-class matches, from 265 balls and 14 minutes short of six hours. He shared a stand of 52 with Stuart Broad but the support he had from Luke Fletcher was equally important in getting him over the line, the bowler sticking by Taylor more than an hour.

Broad's knock was eventful, to say the least. He can bat when he is of a mind but he rode his luck spectacularly as Derbyshire's fielders somehow managed to drop him three times in the space of five balls before Tim Groenewald at last clung on to a top-edged hook.

The stricken Andre Adams batted with a runner in his last appearance before an anticipated five-week lay-off with a torn calf muscle and though he could contribute no more than a swing and a nick Nottinghamshire did finish with a lead of 187. Taylor fell for 112 when, finally taking a risk or two, he skied David Wainwright to mid-off.

Derbyshire were soon up against it, losing two wickets for 24 and though Chanderpaul gave them hope in a partnership of 83 with Madsen the departure of both in the space of five overs put Nottinghamshire back on top. Chanderpaul felt he was unlucky to be given out caught behind, claiming the ball brushed his thigh rather than the bat, but the wicket was one that Fletcher deserved. Broad went wicketless and it was Harry Gurney, an improving left-armer, who struck the second decisive blow when Madsen was leg-before. Then Patel had Ross Whiteley taken at slip to leave Derbyshire hoping for a good last morning and a wet afternoon.

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Posted by SDHM on (April 27, 2013, 9:22 GMT)

@CricketingStargazer - not so sure. Taylor seems to be re-inventing himself as a stodgy blocker so far this year, which is most definitely not what England need. At his best he is a busy, positive batsman - maybe after a lean season last year he just wants to build a base from which to work on, which is no bad thing, but hopefully he can rediscover his sprightly best soon. Don't think conditions in this match have been too easy to bat in though, so it's still a very good innings.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (April 27, 2013, 7:54 GMT)

@SamRoy The obvious answer to that is that James Taylor's performances last year were so poor save for a single not out innings that contributed more than a quarter of his runs for the season that it was a massive surprise that he was picked ahead of more deserving candidates who were displaying good county form at the time. You compare him to Kieswetter who scored more runs in fewer matches at almost double the average and yet was, rightly, not even considered for a Test call-up. Over-hyped, possibly... but the wrong player.

Posted by SamRoy on (April 27, 2013, 2:56 GMT)

It's a travesty that James Taylor is not a regular member of the England ODI side and useless, overhyped cricketers like Dernbach, Kieswetter, Bopara and Samit Patel keep getting chance after chance for England. The bilateral ODI series is mostly meaningless and should be used as a grooming ground for young, talented cricketers (like Taylor, Woakes, Root, Bairstow etc.) instead it is used as a showpiece to exhibit bits and pieces cricketers. It's neither here nor there as bit's and pieces players never win you world cups; talented, aggressive players like Pietersen do.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (April 26, 2013, 20:10 GMT)

If conditions are poor tomorrow you have to feel that it will just make it easier for Notts to wrap this up quickly. An hour, with the ball zipping around a bit in the humidity, might well be enough.

This match was prematurely billed as a "relegation six-pointer". Somehow I think that Notts are better than that and that a win tomorrow will do more than just propell them up the table, by kick-starting the season.

With a cloud over Jonny Bairstow's form, James Taylor's start to the season will not have gone unnoticed. He looks in good touch and seems to be finding his feat at this level. With KP absent, there must be a real chance that he will step into the England middle-order against New Zealand. Like various current and recent England players before him, this may just be the lucky break that he needs to make a place in the England side his own.

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