New Zealand v West Indies, 1st Test, Dunedin, 2nd day December 4, 2013

Taylor joins elite New Zealand list with double

Ross Taylor's search for a long awaited Test hundred is over, and the manner in which he applied himself to score a maiden double-ton will benefit New Zealand in the future

When Brendon McCullum finally called a halt to New Zealand's mammoth innings - the fourth-highest in their Test history - Ross Taylor strode off University Oval to another standing ovation. He had received a few over the last couple of days.

New Zealand's history is not littered with a vast array of double hundreds: Taylor's unbeaten 217 was only the 17th score of above 200 which have been spread among just 13 cricketers. The previous one had been Brendon McCullum's 225 against India in 2010.

In a neat piece of symmetry, the closure of the innings left Taylor with an average of 45.36 - exactly the figure of his mentor, Martin Crowe, with whom he had shared a pre-Test conversation that Taylor acknowledged after the first day. There is just one New Zealand batsman with a higher Test average: John Reid sits 46.28 over a career of 19 matches.

Taylor had ended his year-long wait for a hundred the previous evening but he had spoken of his desire to not waste the chance to build an even more substantial contribution. After the early-morning losses of McCullum and Corey Anderson, it was important Taylor took control of the innings if New Zealand were to obtain their target of a total in excess of 550.

If Kieran Powell had been sharper at short leg, Taylor's innings would have been ended on 131 when he inside-edged Shane Shillingford into his pad, but it was the only chance of his lengthy stay.

Tino Best, who caused Taylor the few other uncomfortable moments he did have, was happy to acknowledge the performance. "The fella is a class act," Best said. "He's a very humble person. I've always admired him for a long time. I'm happy for him. The last year or so he's been going through a tough period in New Zealand and to come and score a double hundred, I know the wicket is a little placid, but he showed a really good attitude and his concentration was immense. We were a little unlucky not get him early but he showed the temperament of an international batsman in his prime."

His previous highest score in Tests was a coursing, unbeaten 154 against England, at Old Trafford, in 2008 when he repeatedly took England's attack into the stands over midwicket. He has the ability to move into a higher gear when the mood takes him, but this innings was made at a relatively consistent pace throughout, the four fifties coming from 66, 84, 81 and 64 deliveries. The slog-sweep, often seen off the spinners (and even medium-pacers) by Taylor did not make an appearance as he left the lofted shots mostly to his team-mates.

Such had been the pace of scoring on the first day that there was no pressure to accelerate beyond what came naturally against a West Indies attack that, although more consistent than yesterday, remained limited and lost the services of their captain, Darren Sammy, with a leg injury during the first session.

Briefly, Taylor unleashed against Shannon Gabriel, taking 18 off an over with four lacerated boundaries, but that did not signal a blitz towards two hundred as he nudged his way there against a deep-set field, with Shillingford and Narsingh Deonarine operating in tandem. Shortly before tea, he then skipped out to drive Deonarine through the covers, and the following delivery he tickled towards fine leg.

He had kept his emotions in check when he reached the hundred, and the double did not see the extravagant celebration that some players unfurl for such landmarks. There is a sense that after the mental battles he went through a year ago, with the loss of the captaincy, he is trying to find a level to his emotions whether in good times or bad.

Neil Wagner, who was at the other end when the double was reached, said: "It's a massive milestone, something awesome and he batted really well. I jogged over to him and he was very calm and quiet and all he said was, 'Thanks for batting with me'. I'm stoked for him."

While the quality, or lack of, in West Indies' attack did not provide the sternest of tests, Taylor's success is notable given that his preparation for this series was hampered by a knee injury and included a solitary first-class match for Central Districts which brought scores of 10 and 0.

Although he provided more than a third of New Zealand's runs it was a collective effort with the bat from the home side. While no one else dominated on the second day, BJ Watling, Ish Sodhi (whose lively innings suggested he should be above Tim Southee in the order) and a merry dash from Wagner all contributed to keep West Indies off the field until after tea.

It was an innings of rare plunder for New Zealand. Only Wellington 1991 (671 for 4 dec against Sri Lanka), Mohali 2003 (630 for 6 dec) and Napier 2009 (619 for 9 dec against India), have been bigger. Taylor was around in 2009, where he also played a considerable part with 151, in concert with Jesse Ryder's 201 and a hundred for McCullum.

Having spent more than five sessions in the field, the loss of two early wickets for West Indies was predictable. The fulcrum of their order is Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. This is a surface they should relish batting on and the ball is already 24 overs old, but they will need to channel the spirit of Taylor.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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