Taylor hopeful of imminent return
New Zealand captain Ross Taylor is almost ready to return to competitive cricket, standing shoulder to shoulder with the man who broke his forearm. Taylor said he is "probably 95% fit" two days ahead of Delhi Daredevils' fourth match of IPL V, against Mumbai Indians on Monday. Daredevils is his third team in his fifth IPL season, and he will now share a dressing room with Morne Morkel, the bowler who broke his arm on the fourth day of the Wellington Test between New Zealand and South Africa.
Taylor, whose left arm is free of a cast but still strapped, said his current level of fitness was what he had worked towards. "I said I'd be available for the game on the 16th," he said. "Whether I'm picked or not is obviously up to the coaches, but obviously I'm doing everything I can possible to try and play."
After being hit by Morkel, Taylor had surgery on his broken arm the day after, and had rushed back to the ground in case New Zealand needed him to bat as they battled for a draw. He had the stitches from the surgery removed last week, before arriving in Delhi late on Wednesday. "They [the doctors] were happy with the way things were going," he said. "It [the arm] has improved every day since I've been here and I'm sure it will continue to improve over the next few days as well."
Surgery, he said, helped speed up his recovery. "I think the operation helped. I don't think I would have been able to be here if it hadn't been for the operation. The body is a funny thing. I was fortunate that I recovered quicker than perhaps I, or other people, thought [I could]."
In his 60-odd hours in Delhi, Taylor has been chatting with his newest IPL team-mates, including Morkel. "I've played for Rajashtan Royals and Royal Challenger Bangalore, and now Delhi. So I've only got a few more teams to go and I think I'll have played for everybody," he joked. When asked whether he agreed with the IPL rule that restricted the number of foreign players in the playing XI to four, Taylor said, "You would rather that four or five internationals vie for one spot rather than [there be] four automatic selections." Taylor has played 34 IPL matches over four seasons, including 22 for Royal Challengers between 2008 and 2010, and 12 for Royals in 2011.
So what is his preferred batting slot in a Twenty20 game? "My preference is to be picked in the side and I'll bat wherever the coach and the captain want me to bat," he said. "At Rajasthan, I was the designated finisher, so No. 4 or 5 is probably my spot."
Taylor pointed out that while the IPL teams were sprinkled with New Zealand players, only Daredevils had two - allrounder Doug Bracewell, apart from Taylor. "All New Zealanders will be [rooting] for Delhi now," he said, before adding on a more serious note that the IPL had not really caught on in his home country because of the lack of live television coverage, as well as the difference in time zones. There were, he said, a lot of people in New Zealand who didn't know anything about the tournament.
"You can only [judge] from what you see. Reading things [about a match] on the internet, and seeing the scoreboard … you don't get an indication that someone getting 20 off eight balls can be better than 20 scored off 30," he said. "Last year the IPL wasn't live [in New Zealand] and I don't think even the highlights were [on television]. The time slots are a little bit different, it's little bit tough to watch. The games are live now. I think every year the New Zealand cricket public will grasp it a little more. I'm sure in two years' time, if it is live, the New Zealand public will have a better perception of it. Once it comes live on TV, the New Zealand public will get in behind it."
What do his fellow countrymen ask him the most about the IPL? "They ask me, 'Is it as mad as it looks?'"
The IPL he said would help the New Zealand players prepare ahead the World Twenty20, which is scheduled for September in Sri Lanka. "The IPL will help us look at different tactics for sure. Spin also becomes a lot more [important] in subcontinent. We are quite a young side, but I'm sure Dougie and a lot of our other guys will get a lot of experience being here. The balance of our side [in the World Twenty20] will be very similar to what happens over here as well."
Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo