Notts v Sussex, Trent Bridge, 4th day June 25, 2013

Taylor reminds England he is still around

Les Smith at Trent Bridge

Sussex 506-5 dec (Joyce 204*) drew with Nottinghamshire 478-8 dec (Taylor 204* )

James Taylor is a young man with a long career already behind him. The problem is that some people seem to blithely assume the best of it is also behind him.

At only 23, he has played with distinction for two first-class counties, captained the England Lions against Sri Lanka, and last year played two home Test matches against South Africa. Many people do not even make their Test debut by then.

A couple of even younger bucks have run up and overtaken him since then, notably the Yorkshire pair of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, but although Taylor denies thinking about England, he must still have hopes, and the innings he played over the last two days - an unbeaten 204 against a Sussex side which sensed at the start of the day that it had a slight chance of victory - will have done him no harm at all.

He started the day on 81 and, when hands were shaken on a draw, he was still there, 30 or so short of his career best. In the process of scoring it he passed 6000 first class runs. He now has 15 career centuries, four of which have been doubles, although not all have them been scored in Division One. Moreover he has had not one but two 97s this year.

It is quite a record, yet England's latest attitude has been to omit him from many of their various squads, squads designed to suit all challenges and all stages of a player's career.

Perhaps they have decided he will benefit by being left alone. Perhaps they will downgrade this as a dead match on a benign pitch. Perhaps they have an issue with the fact he is only 5ft 6ins. Perhaps they will look at the same score by Ed Joyce in Sussex's first innings - an England one-day player whose time has passed - and await more persuasive evidence.

Taylor acknowledged that scoring in the top division is more difficult, and therefore more satisfying. "I think it is a better standard, having played a lot of second division cricket", he said. "It's a step up and I think it's important to show people I can score runs against the best bowlers in the country."

Sussex's challenge was to take 14 wickets in the day, preferably before Notts reached 339, and on a pitch showing few signs of misbehaviour it never looked like happening. They lost only one wicket before tea, Ajmal Shahzad becoming Chris Jordan's fifth victim. He had scored 77 and shared a stand of exactly 200 with Taylor.

Once the follow-on target had been passed the match was effectively over, victim of the loss of more than 100 overs on the first two days. If either side was going to win it was Sussex after they posted their 506 for 5 declared, but the game was played on a flat surface and the batsmen had the upper hand.

James Taylor is a modest young man. He played superbly, especially off the back foot, but chose to point the finger of praise elsewhere.

"It was about scoring runs when we needed it", he said, "and the batsmen stepped up. I definitely couldn't have done it without Azmal Shahzad. He has to be proud of his performance today. It was a flat wicket but you have to deliver results and he definitely did."

Shahzad's restrained 77 suggested a player who might be coming to terms with his wider responsibilities.

Asked about his England prospects Taylor gave a politician's answer. "Ah, I don't really think about it too much to be honest. They're all world-class quality players and I don't compare myself to them. I'm my own person. But I do want to get back there as soon as possible. It's the place to be. And the only way I'm going to get there is by doing what I've done today."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 26, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    There's much written about Taylor's supposed technical flaw yet we see Bairstow's horrible hard hands approach against spinners and Buttler's flicks tempered with some utter brain freezes. Taylor has done everything right to my mind. He knew Trent Bridge would be a tough place to score runs at, as the struggle of the Notts openers in recent years has shown. He's now got runs under his belt, scored well in the winter in Australia when so many around him failed, and he deserves the right to challenge Bell's place. Bopara got plenty of chances when he has greater technical deficiencies, Morgan has completely fallen away from Test reckoning, and Bell averages 32 in the last 18 Tests. Taylor is next in line. If Bairstow is the Pietersen understudy, then Taylor is there to understudy Bell and Trott in case of poor form or injury.

  • Jason on June 26, 2013, 11:21 GMT

    @andybu, correct within a couple of centimeters, Bradman 1m70, SRT & Gaveskar 1m65. James Taylor is 1m68, so pretty much between 3 great batsmen.

    One thing that astounded me was when hes stook next to one of the 'big' guys like KP, Anderson, its like they're on the park with thier teenage son.

    I dont think its over for JT, as other have said he should be peaking about the time KP, Bell, Trott decided to hang up thier bats, and with injuries (or Mount KP going off again!!) hes just waiting for an opportunity to come back in.

  • Andy on June 26, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    Why such a focus on his height? Gavaskar and Tendulkar from the recent age, Bradman from the past were probably a similar height. Surely the contrast between Taylor and Pietersen / Cook (both of whom are about a foot taller) can only be unsettling for the bowling side

  • Samuel on June 26, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    The thing with Taylor is that the England selectors seem to have spotted a technical flaw that they think will be exposed at international level. That's kind of proven false considering that when he's had the opportunity to bat for the Lions against full international attacks he's scored runs. He was also one of the few players to emerge from the Lions walloping in Australia over the winter with any sort of credit. He has struggled in first class cricket since joining Notts so I can understand England waiting to see his form, but then they picked him last year when he wasn't in great nick, so in all honesty, I really don't think they've handled him well at all. Do think he'll be in sooner or later though. He should already be in the ODI side: he's a better batsman in that format than Root & Bairstow, and with the form Morgan is in too an in-form Taylor would be a much better bet.

  • Anver on June 26, 2013, 9:55 GMT

    A perfect reminder for ECB but, i wonder since there's lots of competition nowadays its very very tough for him to creep in......... anyway wish him good luck & hope his bat will talk & may get a recall at some point !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Graham on June 26, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    @Bede83 - Taylor is not taller than Tendulkar; he lies about his height. He really is tiny, no more than 5'4". His nickname's not Titch for nothing. But it doesn't stop him being a high class player with a cool head and a really intelligent approach at the crease. He simply must be the next cab off the rank if Bairstow struggles or golden boy Belly is finally dropped.

  • Dru on June 26, 2013, 8:16 GMT

    I thought this guy was a sure shot a while back - atleast at Eng A level and was surprised to see Compton get ahead. I assumed he faded off but now he is making runs and very much around and surprised he hasn't had a shot at that one spot the English batting order that has been given to Bopara, Morgan and Bairstow before Root grabbed it.

  • Dummy4 on June 26, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    What's strangest is that he was even dropped from the Lions. That suggests that Geoff Miller has a personal issue with him. Since when has any selector considered county games more important than Lions games? If they were, why bother having a Lions team at all? Perhaps he just didn't fit around the dressing room or rubbed the management up the wrong way. Sooner or later he'll get another chance though. He's too good not to.

  • Owen on June 26, 2013, 7:28 GMT

    @terrifyingwarriors - I see him more of the Hussey for England! As jmch pointed out, he is a middle order player and if our current lot keep going strong then it might be another 5-6 years before he can force his way in, by which time he will be pushing 30 and will probably has 1000's of first class runs to his name! I don't think that will happen though, one of the 3/4/5 will break down or go through a rough patch and hopefully JT will be in form when they do.