Nottinghamshire v Durham, Trent Bridge, 1st day

Taylor hitting form at the right time

George Dobell at Trent Bridge

April 29, 2013

Comments: 4 | Text size: A | A

Durham 34 for 1 trail Nottinghamshire 320 (Taylor 97, Mullaney 80, Stokes 3-58) by 286 runs
Scorecard


James Taylor helped steady Nottinghamshire's innings, Nottinghamshire v Durham, County Championship, Division One, Trent Bridge, 1st day, April 29, 2013
James Taylor fell three runs short of back-to-back hundreds © Getty Images
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When you're not much over five feet tall, being overlooked comes with the territory.

Certainly James Taylor could be forgiven for feeling that way. Despite making a decent fist of his baptism in Test cricket - the 147 he added with Kevin Pietersen on debut at Headingley was England's highest fifth-wicket stand against South Africa since they were readmitted into Test cricket - he was dropped just one game later and then omitted from the senior squads to tour India or New Zealand. To rub salt in the wound, he was then omitted from the 30-man performance squad named by the ECB at the start of this summer.

Not only were the England management unconvinced by his ability outside off stump, but there were rumours that one of Taylor's England colleagues in that Headingley Test made no attempt to conceal his own surprise at the batsman's early elevation to Test cricket. It wasn't easy being JT in that dressing room.

But Taylor - who, to be fair, claims to be five foot six (but much in the way that Father Ted used to claim the money was "resting in his account") - continues to make a persuasive case for a recall. Following a century in his previous innings against Derbyshire he came within three runs of recording another here and produced the most solid batting of a day on which 11 wickets fell.

While some might explain away a first-class career average of 47.71 by stating that many of those runs were made in Division Two of the Championship, his record for England Lions is excellent - he averages 61.60 in first-class cricket for them and 38.20 in List A cricket - and, if his technique is unusual, his record suggests it is also highly effective.

While the watching national selector, Geoff Miller, cannot have been totally assured of Taylor's ability on the off side - two third of his runs came on the leg side and he was beaten outside off on several occasions - he can only have been impressed by the application shown by the diminutive 23-year-old.

On a day on which several batsmen played a large part in their own downfall, Taylor fought hard and produced a number of pleasing strokes to fully justify his place in the England Lions team to play New Zealand at his previous club, Leicestershire, that was announced during the day's play.

"I've had some good chats with Geoff Miller," Taylor said afterwards. "I know it's down to me to score runs and it will be nice to go back to Grace Road and do well against an international attack. My game can definitely work at Test level. Sachin Tendulkar is the same height as me. Just look at my record: I've scored hundreds against very decent attacks.

"I felt very comfortable when I played Test cricket; the only problem was the experience was a bit brief. I know I didn't express myself as much as I would have liked, but that was dictated by the match situation which dictated that someone had to dig in."

This was another day for digging in. While Taylor did take Ben Stokes for three successive fours at one stage - two pulls and a drive - he was generally content to accumulate and played a supporting role to the fluent Steven Mullaney in a fifth-wicket stand of 111. Mullaney contributed 80; Taylor just 24.

Broad calms injury worries

  • Stuart Broad was forced to leave the field after bowling just three overs in Nottinghamshire's County Championship match against Durham. Broad edged the ball into his groin while batting earlier in the day and later felt some tightness in the area when he started to bowl.
  • His first over cost 12 and, after two more, he left the pitch as a precaution and will be assessed before the second day's play before any decision is made about his participation in the rest of this game. He later tweeted: "Got hit in the groin while batting. Nothing major will be bowling 1st thing 2moro."

When Taylor eventually fell, pushing at an arm ball well outside off stump, he became Gareth Breese's first Championship wicket since September 2008 and only his second since 2006. Breese, playing ahead of Keaton Jennings, has played only five Championship games in six seasons, which perhaps says more about Durham's confidence in Scott Borthwick's leg-spin than it does anything else.

While Taylor reckoned Nottinghamshire's final total was "about par", Durham will be disappointed to have allowed them to score so many. They put down five chances in all, with Stokes, usually so reliable, missing four of varying degrees of difficulty. Will Smith put down the other.

Most of the misses proved expensive. Ed Cowan, who went on to score 40, was reprieved on 4, Mullaney was missed on 6 and Stuart Broad, who made 46, survived chances on 1 and 7. A crude calculation would suggest the drops cost Durham 157 runs.

Graham Onions, as reliable as ever, was the unfortunate bowler on several occasions, but Mark Wood - preferred to Callum Thorp - was just as impressive. Decidedly brisk, he beat Taylor with successive deliveries on off stump and dismissed Mullaney, flashing outside off stump to the first ball of a spell, and Chris Read, beaten for pace and bounce as he attempted to drive. In Stokes, who also bowled with good pace, and Wood, Durham possess a pair of outstandingly talented young allrounders.

Earlier Alex Hales left a straight one, Cowan's pleasing innings ended when he uncharacteristically failed to move his feet to a drive and edged to gully, before Michael Lumb was struck on the foot by a yorker and Samit Patel guided the ball before lunch - a long hop - to point as obligingly as a coach providing catching practice.

While Mullaney batted with pleasing fluency - he drove Breese for sixes from successive balls at one stage - and Broad thrashed about with characteristic abandon - he, too, struck two sixes and, at one stage, four fours in six deliveries - Nottinghamshire could have done with a little more of Taylor's determination if they were to have built a match-defining position.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (May 1, 2013, 16:26 GMT)

Taylor's second innings, under pressure, shows he has a long way to go before he is considered at the highest level. Since moving into the first division, he has appeared, at the most charitable, mediocre.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (April 30, 2013, 3:06 GMT)

@Mitty2 on (April 29, 2013, 22:00 GMT), if you are determined to read his comparing his height to Tendulkar as him comparing his ability to Tendulkar then good luck to you. As for his two mediocre Tests, he batted three times and was run out for very little in one through no real fault of his own and played a fine supporting role to a KP blitz in another. No, he didn't set the world on fire but I don't think that it's fair to judge his performance in those three innings as being "two mediocre Tests. He had one poor innings, one good one under the circumstances and one that may as well not have happened because his partner ran him out before he had a chance to get going.

Posted by   on (April 30, 2013, 1:58 GMT)

Taylor is a far better player than Compton, Root and Bairstow, all of whom seem to have jumped above him in the pecking order. They're all good players but Taylor has the potential for a 100-test career and needs to get a run in the team. Put him in at six against New Zealand and guarantee him the whole of the home Ashes series and I'm sure he'll flourish.

Posted by Mitty2 on (April 29, 2013, 22:00 GMT)

"I know it's down to me to score runs and it will be nice to go back to Grace Road and do well against an international attack. My game can definitely work at Test level. Sachin Tendulkar is the same height as me. Just look at my record: I've scored hundreds against very decent attacks." - I remember many English commenting on Faulkner's overconfidence as a young player, but geez, how about that for arrogance!

Played two mediocre tests and the not-so-subtle comparison to sachin tendulkar comes out!

Oh and george dobell, yes, "some might explain" that his FC average is thoroughly inflated because of division 2, but there's a very obvious justification for that - although many have said it has improved - the standard of division 2 is still very mediocre. Averaging 47 against trundlers who average above 30 - whilst very commendable - still doesn't elicit much about his ability. But he has countered the necessary step up well, and is the next best after root, so good luck to him.

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