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'We need a core of seven to eight leaders in the team'

New Zealand's new captain, Ross Taylor, wants more players to step up, and is keen to retain his attacking batting style, and to use Vettori's experience to take the team forward

Interview by Brydon Coverdale

June 23, 2011

Comments: 13 | Text size: A | A

The appointment of Ross Taylor as New Zealand's captain marks the start of a fresh era for the side. The coach, John Wright, has been in the job only six months, the director of cricket, John Buchanan, is remodelling the high-performance systems, and the selection process has been streamlined. Taylor spoke to ESPNcricinfo about his promotion and what he sees as the way forward for a New Zealand side that has struggled in recent years.

Ross Taylor and Daniel Vettori at a training session on the eve of the match against Sri Lanka, World Cup, Mumbai, March 17, 2011
"I have a good relationship with Dan. He's always good to get some ideas from, on the way the team is tracking" © AFP

New Zealand have only won two of their last 21 Tests. How can you turn this around?
We're always striving for consistency and we haven't quite found the right balance. That's the ultimate test of any captain of New Zealand - to get the team performing on a consistent basis - and I'm no different. We've got the talent in our squad and we just have to get the best out of individuals. If we can get a good core of senior players and get them up the world rankings, we'll be a better team for that.

Do you think the team have sometimes had the mindset that a draw is as good as a win?
I think sometimes we probably did feel that way. The way Test cricket is going, there are not a lot of draws these days. The only time there are draws are if the wicket is really flat or if the weather plays a part. The way Test cricket is played, Tests are won more often than not. We need to have that mindset. If we go out there just to draw series, we're going to get ourselves into trouble. If we go out there to win, it's a nice positive mindset to have.

Your first Test series as captain will be in Zimbabwe. Will there be extra pressure, knowing you are expected to win?
It's probably not a bad thing. We're not favourites against many teams. We went over as favourites against Bangladesh and the result was different. But it's an exciting time for New Zealand cricket. We've got a good core of young cricketers coming through the ranks, and I'm sure over the next couple of years these players will get some exposure, and it'll be a good time for New Zealand cricket. I'm looking forward to leading the team out against Zimbabwe.

When you've been stand-in captain, your batting has lifted. Is that a conscious focus - to lead by example?
I think so. It's one of the things I've taken from Dan's captaincy. He was always leading from the front, and I think one of the biggest things with leadership is to lead from the front. If you do that, others will follow. I've been happy with the way I've batted when I have captained the team, and I look forward to doing it when I'm captain full-time.

Is there part of you that thinks as captain you need to rein in some of the big, risky shots?
Probably a little bit of that comes into it with a bit more responsibility. But I've got to this part of my career with the way I play, and I can't see why I should do anything differently. The older you get, the more experienced you get, and the better you'll hone your technique and mental skills. The biggest thing I can do is still play the way I know how to play.

What have you learnt from the various captains you've played under?
They've all had their own way of going about things, but they've all been good. I've learnt a lot from Stephen Fleming, one of the best captains in world cricket, and Dan Vettori - the way he led from the front. In the IPL it was brilliant to play under Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid and see the way they went about things, and Shane Warne and the aggressive nature that he had. Warnie is one of the most aggressive captains. One of the things I learnt from Warnie, and admired about him, was trying to get the best out of the team and individuals, and just winning from anywhere. If you have a mindset of winning from any situation then more often than not those tight games will go your way. There's a lot of hard work but I was very fortunate to play with those captains.

Will it feel odd captaining Daniel Vettori after he has done the job for so long?
I think it will be a little bit strange, but I have a good relationship with Dan. It will be nice to have his presence in the dressing room as well. He's got huge respect amongst the players. He's always good to get some ideas from, on the way the team is tracking. He's still undecided on whether he's going to play one-dayers this year, but at least we'll have him in the Test arena.

"If we can be somewhere from fourth to sixth in 12 months I think that would be a realistic goal"

There has sometimes been a feeling the side has relied too heavily on Daniel. Does that need to change?
If we've only got one or two players we rely on, we'll keep being inconsistent. We need to breed some leaders, and some players who need to step up. We can't afford to only have two or three. We need a good core of seven or eight players to stand up on any given day, and the more players we can get, if we can extend that out to eight, nine, 10, 11, then I think we'll be a strong team.

Who are the young guys who can step up?
The first name that comes to mind is Kane Williamson. He's got a big future with New Zealand. He's playing county cricket, and I'm sure he's learning a lot. There are also some players who haven't played for New Zealand, or who have only played a couple of games. We've got some exciting young fast bowlers coming through. Adam Milne was clocked up to 150kph against Pakistan in the two Twenty20 games he played. He's an exciting young talent. There are some others like Doug Bracewell, Ben Wheeler, Bevan Small coming through the ranks. They are exciting young prospects. Something that we haven't had a lot of is depth in our fast bowlers, but the group of players coming through is very exciting.

What do you enjoy about working with John Wright?
He had a lot of success with India, but he's very passionate about New Zealand. He likes to bring a lot of passion to the team. We both respect each other, probably have similar views on a lot of things, and are probably a little bit old-school in some respects. We both hate losing. I had a good relationship with Wrighty when I was a vice-captain, and I look forward to working with him more.

New Zealand are eighth in the Test rankings, ahead of only Bangladesh. What is your long-term goal for the side?
The ultimate is to sit up at No. 1 or 2, and not that long ago - probably at the start of my career - we weren't too far away from that. But we're down the bottom, and in some ways that's probably a nice thing - the only way to go from here is upwards. We've got some big series coming up, against Australia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. If we play like we know we can play on a more consistent basis, then I'm sure we'll go up those rankings.

How far do you think the side can progress within the next year?
We go to Zimbabwe, then to Australia, then Zimbabwe come here, then we've got South Africa here, and we go to the Caribbean after that. We're eighth in the Test rankings. If we can be somewhere from fourth to sixth in 12 months, I think that would be a realistic goal. That's something I think we can attain in the next 12 to 18 months.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (June 24, 2011, 22:24 GMT)

@Gagg. True Brooke Walker. By the way youre are right about the quick thing. Its incredibly frustrating the likes of McKay and Bennett get selected simply cause theyre quick and despite the fact they have ordinary first-class figures (Bennett has 91 FC wickets @ 37.82, clearly an international player!)

Posted by mally_northenfieldcc on (June 24, 2011, 11:18 GMT)

Good luck Ross - a lot of people want you guys to do well. Hope that those young guys come through. As ever, the Kiwis excell at getting the most out of a limited player pool.

Posted by VENKATASAIPRAVEEN on (June 24, 2011, 10:29 GMT)

Looking at the current form of the team , it is not going to be an easy job for Taylor...It is time for the Kiwis to stop relying too much on Vettori..

Posted by StevieS on (June 24, 2011, 8:05 GMT)

Yes Greg Loveridge was another. 20 years? wow still a kid.

Posted by StevieS on (June 24, 2011, 8:04 GMT)

Andrew Brighton, Brooke Walker is the obvious one, there are a few more but can't remember there names. I admit it was when Warne was at his peak that we seem to look at any leg spinner for a possible spot in our national side.

Posted by ilovetests on (June 24, 2011, 3:12 GMT)

With all this talk about legspinners, I'd love to see Todd Astle get a crack in the test team (along with Vettori). Let's play 2 spinners (even in Australia at the end of the year)

Posted by   on (June 23, 2011, 22:30 GMT)

@Gagg. NZ has 3 leg-spin bowlers to take more than 10 test wickets. Bill Merrit (1930-31 12 wickets @ 51) Alex Moir (51-59 28@50) and Jack Alabaster (55-72 49@38.) So youre right, NZ has a long history of leg-spinners its just we havent had one for nigh on 40 years is all.

Posted by   on (June 23, 2011, 21:58 GMT)

@Gagg. Ive been following NZ cricket for 20 years and can't remember a single leg-spinner in the NZ team! Greg Loveridge played 1 test, but didnt bowl a ball after breaking his finger batting in the 1st innings of the test. Can you please inform me who all these average leg-spinners are?

Posted by Stark62 on (June 23, 2011, 17:24 GMT)

Taylor, I don't think you guys need a core of 7 to 8 leaders but rather 7 to 8 world class players, who perform consistently and are regular members of the squad.

Posted by desivic on (June 23, 2011, 17:13 GMT)

Come on Kiwis. You are a really good team and I admire you guys a lot. Please perform more consistently.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.

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