Newell backs Taylor after England setback
Nottinghamshire's coach, Mick Newell, has come to the defence of his struggling England batsman James Taylor after he was the surprise omission in the 30-strong England Performance Squad announced by the ECB.
Taylor's England ambitions have faltered since he was given a Test debut against South Africa at Headingley last summer - a debut which became overshadowed by Kevin Pietersen's public admission of problems within the dressing room.
While Pietersen's England stand-off clouded the summer, Taylor's issues passed almost unnoticed. He was dropped after only two Tests, failed to make the cut for England's winter tour squads in India and New Zealand and led England Lions on a disastrous one-day tour of Australia, although he did top the Lions averages with 331 runs at 55.16.
Newell, who raided Leicestershire for Taylor at the end of the 2011 season, remains confident that he can rebuild his reputation by playing a central role in Nottinghamshire's Championship challenge.
"I don't think he was quite ready to play Test cricket," Newell said. "If Ravi Bopara had not pulled out for personal reasons he would not have played. He just needs a bit longer to develop his game. But I'm very confident he is going to be a high run-scorer for the next two or three years."
Newell's signing of Taylor was based on the belief that he would have several seasons developing his game at Trent Bridge before any England honours came along. Even the move to Notts was a challenge for Taylor. His upbringing at Leicestershire came on flatter pitches against Division Two attacks. At Trent Bridge, he had to adjust to Division One bowlers in arguably the most bowler-friendly conditions in the country.
In time, it can prove to be an appropriate move which will benefit his career. But Trent Bridge is a tough learning ground for batsmen. His progress could be more thorough, but slower. This is no quickie degree.
His batting statistics declined markedly as a result - a career first-class batting average of more than 50 falling to 47.03 as he made only 608 Championship runs at an average of 32.00. His Notts career was up and down from the start. He was dismissed first ball on his first-class debut - against Loughborough MCCU at Trent Bridge - but struck a hundred second time around, so becoming the tenth Notts batsman to make a century on debut.
"In terms of number it was a poorer return than I would have liked, but I would expect him to average less in Division One than Two," Newell said. "If not, then what is the point of two divisions?"
Taylor shared a century-stand with Pietersen at Headingley and, if he was very much the junior partner, he was not the first to be overshadowed by Pietersen's batting genius. But it was a highly unfavourable time to join an England dressing room as the personality clashes became evident. He then failed twice at Lord's, where he was unlucky to be run out in the second innings.
Taylor is part of a strong top six at Nottinghamshire that will feature three England one-day batsmen - all part of the EPS - in Alex Hales, Michael Lumb and Samit Patel, and which will be further strengthened by two Australian batsmen, Ed Cowan at the start of the season and David Hussey once the Ashes series begins.
As for the England Lions who fared so badly in Australia, they are conspicuous by their absence. Stuart Meaker, James Harris and Danny Briggs make it, but there is no Varun Chopra as a potential Test opener, no Rikki Clarke, which presumably scuppers his Champions Trophy chances, and no Simon Kerrigan as understudy to Monty Panesar. Ben Stokes, strikingly, and Matt Coles, both of whom were banished early from the tour for disciplinary reasons are overlooked.
But there was encouragement for Chris Tremlett, Surrey's strapping seam bowler, who has not played a Test match since January 2012 due to a long-standing back problem and last featured in a first-class match for Surrey in July last year. An Ashes return could yet be the biggest turn-up of the summer.
The EPS was introduced in 2006 as a list of 30 players who could potentially come under England's direct control as part of an attempt to ease their integration into the senior teams. It is an indicator of those held in highest regard by the management and includes players on a mix of England central contracts, incremental contracts and county contracts.
England Performance Squad 2013: Alastair Cook (Test and ODI capt), Stuart Broad (T20 capt), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Nick Compton, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, James Harris, Craig Kieswetter, Michael Lumb, Stuart Meaker, Eoin Morgan, Graham Onions, Monty Panesar, Samit Patel, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Joe Root, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Chris Tremlett, Jonathan Trott, Chris Woakes, Luke Wright
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo