Sri Lanka A v England Lions, 2nd unofficial Test, Dambulla February 21, 2014

Taylor's case becoming undeniable

24

Taylor slams CV on selectors' table

Sri Lanka A 72 for 0 and 289 trail England Lions 605 for 7 dec (Taylor 242*, Robson 142, Plunkett 74*) by 244 runs
Scorecard

There was a time in English cricket where a ground committee would assemble over small sherry in an oak-panelled boardroom to select the England XI to play on their facilities. Political agendas, personal crusades and plain old bias resulted in some peculiar choices. It could be argued James Taylor has been the victim of similar practice in the past two years but his case for Test selection must surely now catch the attention regardless of preconceptions.

Taylor has previously built his case in the background. A promising youngster at Leicestershire, he became a serious contender for international duty after moving to Nottinghamshire. A steady stream of runs have been made in the County Championship and for the England Lions. Here, his first-class best 242 was a major innings with all eyes upon him. Taylor has slammed his CV on the desk of the selectors. And he should not leave the room until he is picked.

Taylor is ready for a return to Test cricket. At just 24 he has played over 100 first-class matches and competitive cricket in a variety of conditions around the world. He has made runs everywhere, too, and now holds five first-class double-centuries.

Taylor admitted before this tour that he had given the selectors leeway to not pick him because he had not gone above and beyond the players in the Test side. His tour of Sri Lanka began in that mould with two attractive half-centuries in six innings. But this was an innings no-one can fudge. He made a century and then feasted merrily on his chance to turn an impressive score into one that marks him out a different class of player. Graham Gooch, Mr Daddy Hundred himself, approved from the boundary.

He has hooked admirers in for a while. But England have kept him at arm's length. Brought in for his Test debut in August 2012, he hardly looked out of place against a strong South Africa attack but was not selected for the India tour. Last summer he was the player on standby for Kevin Pietersen - and made a century against the Australians for Sussex - but despite also averaging a healthy 46.25 in the Championship was not included in the Ashes party. He averaged 60 in Australian club cricket instead, also getting the chance to work with Mickey Arthur.

He was in complete control on the third day. The previous afternoon he had Sam Robson for company as a fellow Test candidate made his own century; building an innings as the junior partner is a calm place from which to play. Twenty-four hours later, Taylor was in full focus, his timing at its peak, knocking Sri Lanka A all over Dambulla and when England declared they had a lead of over 300.

He slept on 99 but struck the first ball of the day to bring up his century, and also transpired to hold off the second ovation until after tea, taking the interval on 199. His final two runs of the session came via a nervy leading edge through cover. He had played few scoring strokes in the second hour after lunch as he lost some of the momentum that had hitherto seen fluid accumulation. Most of his runs came forcing the agenda - three times skipping down the pitch to lift the spinners to the wide long-on boundary.

The double century stowed away, Taylor played with complete freedom. So completely at one with the ball being delivered at him, he hit it everywhere, the pick of the strokes being a lofted extra-cover drive for six. Consecutive reserve sweeps brought up England's 600; a third for a single saw them declare with a monumental lead.

Liam Plunkett was a large part of the blitz of 76 runs in seven overs after tea, having done his level best to give Taylor the chance to bring up his double before the break. Plunkett is a very capable batsman and flourished here with licence to play he strokes. Three crisp strikes sailed for six, including a peach over long-on.

But the reality of taking another 10 wickets dawned in the 21 overs Sri Lanka A faced before the close. Upul Tharanga and Dimuth Karunaratne enjoyed the easiest conditions for opening batsman so far in the series. This pitch is exceptionally good. Too good for a four-day match. It is unlikely to deteriorate to provide England's spinners with much assistance on the final day.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • o-bomb on February 22, 2014, 11:25 GMT

    Thanks Cod&Chips. I just don't see the merits of Morgan in the long form game. Ideally I'd say if they stick with Root he should stay in the middle order for the moment, although that depends on who else Cook could open with. There is an opportunity to blood a couple of inexperienced players in the summer and I hope they take it rather than going back to those who have already tried and failed at test level.

  • ballsintherightareas on February 22, 2014, 10:11 GMT

    Compare averages and strike rates for Taylor and Bairstow.

    Taylor: First class: ave 48.80 List A: ave 50.76; SR 82.01 T20: ave 35.29; SR 114.93

    Bairstow: First class: ave 42.53 List A: ave 27.47; SR 98.21 T20: ave 17.87; SR 114.53

    If Taylor makes that many runs at those kind of rates, across all three formats, and is still only 24 plus is seen as having a good cricket brain (he has often captained the Lions), then he can be three feet tall and made of butter for all I care. Get him in the team now!

  • LeeJA on February 22, 2014, 7:07 GMT

    Great performance from Taylor, hopefully it will be enough

    I think the biggest factors impacting our batting line up are: 1) Our lack of experience spin option (Borthwick, Rayner and Kerrigan competing for 1 spot now) means we need a Root or Ali to give us a second spin option in the team 2) What is more important, someone who can open (Root) or someone who can come in lower down the order (Ali)?

    The above plays a big part is who is in the rest of the line up. For me with have limited natural openers, natural number 3's and then a whole host who can play 4 and 5 (Bell, Taylor, Morgan, Ballance, Ali).

    Bell isn't a natural 3 so I'd like to see him move back down to 5 to hold the innings together... at 3 we have Trott, Compton or maybe Lumb who are natural 3s...Trott if mentally ok 1st choice then Compton for me.

    And so... Root (natural opener), Cook, Compton (natural 3), Taylor, Bell, Prior, Stokes, Borthwick, Broad, Jordan, Anderson

    Opinion changes daily...good luck selectors

  • on February 22, 2014, 0:04 GMT

    I bet the England 1st team coaches and management are drooling at the chance to destroy another promising young player.

  • 2.14istherunrate on February 21, 2014, 22:52 GMT

    Taylor keeps on delivering for Lions. He is a bit reminiscent of Thorpe who did a number of A tours. Hope he delivers in tests too.

  • BRUTALANALYST on February 21, 2014, 22:38 GMT

    Why does everyone go for Root ? I'd much rather have Carberry opening v Sri Lanka and India and Comton also ahead of Root. I don't think Bairstow should be in the team either. Taylor deserves a shot however ahead of Morgan who everyone seems to now be pushing since KP's departure.

  • pxm1969 on February 21, 2014, 21:46 GMT

    I think England's lack of a properly convincing spinner tips the balance in Moeen Ali's favour in the middle order. Picking him allows them to pick just specialist seamers or alternatively takes pressure off someone like Borthwick. Morgan is going to get one last chance, but Taylor will be breathing down his neck.

  • BailsRgo on February 21, 2014, 21:43 GMT

    ""James Taylor has scored 2731 runs at an average of 57 for England Lions. What else has he to do. He has to get his chance like Bairstow and Root a long stint would be fair."""

    he has to be a public schoolboy

  • Roshan_P on February 21, 2014, 19:16 GMT

    I think Root and Anderson should definitely be rested for now as they have been overworked, and I think we've all seen enough of Carberry. Possibly Woakes in for Stokes, as he has been worked a lot too (even in T20s which is a little strange). Onions' place is a given (at least it should be), Taylor seems to be a good batsman, Jordan seems to be a good bowler and I would play Ballance as well seeing as he is pretty good too. I would not put Bell at 3 from past evidence, but he seems to be the only option for now. I'm guessing Robson will open and Bell will be at 3, but Compton should be able to provide back-up for both of these positions. Here's my Test XI:

    1) Cook, 2) Robson / Compton, 3) Bell / Compton, 4) Taylor, 5) Ballance, 6) Stokes / Woakes, 7) Whoever the best gloveman is, 8) Broad, 9) Onions, 10) Jordan, 11) Whoever the best spinner is.

  • on February 21, 2014, 18:36 GMT

    James Taylor has scored 2731 runs at an average of 57 for England Lions. What else has he to do. He has to get his chance like Bairstow and Root a long stint would be fair.

  • o-bomb on February 22, 2014, 11:25 GMT

    Thanks Cod&Chips. I just don't see the merits of Morgan in the long form game. Ideally I'd say if they stick with Root he should stay in the middle order for the moment, although that depends on who else Cook could open with. There is an opportunity to blood a couple of inexperienced players in the summer and I hope they take it rather than going back to those who have already tried and failed at test level.

  • ballsintherightareas on February 22, 2014, 10:11 GMT

    Compare averages and strike rates for Taylor and Bairstow.

    Taylor: First class: ave 48.80 List A: ave 50.76; SR 82.01 T20: ave 35.29; SR 114.93

    Bairstow: First class: ave 42.53 List A: ave 27.47; SR 98.21 T20: ave 17.87; SR 114.53

    If Taylor makes that many runs at those kind of rates, across all three formats, and is still only 24 plus is seen as having a good cricket brain (he has often captained the Lions), then he can be three feet tall and made of butter for all I care. Get him in the team now!

  • LeeJA on February 22, 2014, 7:07 GMT

    Great performance from Taylor, hopefully it will be enough

    I think the biggest factors impacting our batting line up are: 1) Our lack of experience spin option (Borthwick, Rayner and Kerrigan competing for 1 spot now) means we need a Root or Ali to give us a second spin option in the team 2) What is more important, someone who can open (Root) or someone who can come in lower down the order (Ali)?

    The above plays a big part is who is in the rest of the line up. For me with have limited natural openers, natural number 3's and then a whole host who can play 4 and 5 (Bell, Taylor, Morgan, Ballance, Ali).

    Bell isn't a natural 3 so I'd like to see him move back down to 5 to hold the innings together... at 3 we have Trott, Compton or maybe Lumb who are natural 3s...Trott if mentally ok 1st choice then Compton for me.

    And so... Root (natural opener), Cook, Compton (natural 3), Taylor, Bell, Prior, Stokes, Borthwick, Broad, Jordan, Anderson

    Opinion changes daily...good luck selectors

  • on February 22, 2014, 0:04 GMT

    I bet the England 1st team coaches and management are drooling at the chance to destroy another promising young player.

  • 2.14istherunrate on February 21, 2014, 22:52 GMT

    Taylor keeps on delivering for Lions. He is a bit reminiscent of Thorpe who did a number of A tours. Hope he delivers in tests too.

  • BRUTALANALYST on February 21, 2014, 22:38 GMT

    Why does everyone go for Root ? I'd much rather have Carberry opening v Sri Lanka and India and Comton also ahead of Root. I don't think Bairstow should be in the team either. Taylor deserves a shot however ahead of Morgan who everyone seems to now be pushing since KP's departure.

  • pxm1969 on February 21, 2014, 21:46 GMT

    I think England's lack of a properly convincing spinner tips the balance in Moeen Ali's favour in the middle order. Picking him allows them to pick just specialist seamers or alternatively takes pressure off someone like Borthwick. Morgan is going to get one last chance, but Taylor will be breathing down his neck.

  • BailsRgo on February 21, 2014, 21:43 GMT

    ""James Taylor has scored 2731 runs at an average of 57 for England Lions. What else has he to do. He has to get his chance like Bairstow and Root a long stint would be fair."""

    he has to be a public schoolboy

  • Roshan_P on February 21, 2014, 19:16 GMT

    I think Root and Anderson should definitely be rested for now as they have been overworked, and I think we've all seen enough of Carberry. Possibly Woakes in for Stokes, as he has been worked a lot too (even in T20s which is a little strange). Onions' place is a given (at least it should be), Taylor seems to be a good batsman, Jordan seems to be a good bowler and I would play Ballance as well seeing as he is pretty good too. I would not put Bell at 3 from past evidence, but he seems to be the only option for now. I'm guessing Robson will open and Bell will be at 3, but Compton should be able to provide back-up for both of these positions. Here's my Test XI:

    1) Cook, 2) Robson / Compton, 3) Bell / Compton, 4) Taylor, 5) Ballance, 6) Stokes / Woakes, 7) Whoever the best gloveman is, 8) Broad, 9) Onions, 10) Jordan, 11) Whoever the best spinner is.

  • on February 21, 2014, 18:36 GMT

    James Taylor has scored 2731 runs at an average of 57 for England Lions. What else has he to do. He has to get his chance like Bairstow and Root a long stint would be fair.

  • gregort97 on February 21, 2014, 18:13 GMT

    My England team would be: 1. Cook 2. Compton 3. Bell 4. Taylor 5. Morgan 6. Ali 7. Stokes 8. Buttler 9. Broad 10. Anderson 11. Onions, with Robson, Ballance, Jordan, Woakes, Kieswetter and Tredwell as back-ups.I think Root and Bairstow need some time away from international cricket- they are clearly extremely talented, but I think just not ready. I don't think there are any spinners in the country deserving of a place just yet- certainly not Scott Borthwick, whom it seems likely will be picked, so Moeen Ali will have to take over spinning duties. Sadly, I suspect our XI will look a little more like this: 1. Cook 2. Root 3. Bell 4. Ballance 5. Morgan 6. Stokes 7. Prior 8. Bresnan 9. Broad 10. Borthwick 11. Anderson.

  • 200ondebut on February 21, 2014, 17:58 GMT

    There are a lot of good players about - but how many are great. KP was great. Trott's record is great. We need batters who can average 50 - not 40. Root is still ahead of Taylor in my mind. Bopara is still the most talented - but like Hick/Ramps cant deliver.

  • CodandChips on February 21, 2014, 17:08 GMT

    @o-bomb you speak a lot of sense.But don't forget Taylor was picked for the Old Trafford test, before being excluded from the ashes tour (on height methinks).

    Re Morgan over Taylor, I the selectors will go for him on ODI form, despite the obvious issues with Bailey and Rankin. He might be able to add strong leadership and aggressive batting, but I'd only really consider him once the line-up is settled.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on February 21, 2014, 16:58 GMT

    I don't know why almost all of you are so 'happy' to have Root opening. He is terrible opening, so for tests England really need a better opener to partner Cook. If Root plays he should be kept in the middle order.

    I reckon England will go for something similar to CodandChips' predicted team. It wouldn't surprise me if they continue to ignore the likes of Onions and Taylor, and instead opt (again) for one of the lanks. Stokes has probably secured the all-rounder's slot, so I doubt Woakes will get many chances unfortunately. The spinner's slot (if England even bother to have one) will be yet another revolving-door position for quite some time yet, and part-timers like Root have been underused so doubt it will be any different with the likes of Ali (if he's even picked). Lots of tough decisions lie ahead regardless...

  • CodandChips on February 21, 2014, 16:25 GMT

    @salazar555 why do you think Buttler will keep? Bairstow isn't great, but got 5 catches first innings, and England have some ridiculous faith in him.

    I disagree on the side you think England will go with. I think they'll pick: 1.Cook 2.Robson 3.Root 4.Bell 5.Morgan 6.Stokes 7.Prior/Bairstow 8.Broad 9.Onions?? 10.Anderson 11.Any spinner- who knows who

    My choice: 1.Cook 2.Root/Robson 3.Bell 4.Taylor 5.Ali 6.Woakes 7.Davies 8. Broad 9.Jordan 10.Anderson 11.Kerrigan

    Give Stokes and Root a rest. Morgan should be nowhere near the side.

  • o-bomb on February 21, 2014, 16:19 GMT

    I would love to see Taylor get a proper run in the test side this summer. He played twice against the best team in the world 2 years ago and had a reasonable start to his test career. I'm surprised he hasn't been picked again since. I can't for a moment believe Morgan is above him in the pecking order with his first class form over the last 2 years. If Taylor makes a good start to the season at Trent Bridge I can't see how the selectors can leave him out.

  • LeeHallam on February 21, 2014, 16:04 GMT

    With only Cook, Bell and Stokes sure to start in the top six, the competition for places is hotting up nicely. We need to plan without Trott, and I think England have seen enough of Carberry and Compton, and have made up their mind about them. Root and Ballance start as favourites, but a poor start to the season could cost them if others do well. Taylor, Robson, Morgan and Ali seem to be their rivals. With Woakes or Ali as cover for Stokes. The future looks very interesting, and it is fat too early to say who will line up in June.

  • moaningmike on February 21, 2014, 15:48 GMT

    If the England selectors follow their usual practice, they will wait until Taylor is completely out of form and then pick him, give him one Test and drop him.

  • Iddo555 on February 21, 2014, 15:36 GMT

    Dremliner keep dreaming.

    The team is already chosen and short of someone doing something terrible in the next 4 months then expect to see this rolled out:

    Cook, Root, Bell, Ballance, Morgan, Stokes, Buttler, Borthwick, Broad, Anderson, Onions.

    Taylor, Robson, Bresnan, Jordan, Woakes will be considered but I don't think they'll play unless they do something fantastic and the likes of Root, Ballance Morgan, and Onions play terribly

  • CodandChips on February 21, 2014, 15:08 GMT

    Taylor's record in all forms demands selection. Even arguably his T20 record should be good enough to replace the likes of Wright and Bopara. I do have an issue with him that he doesn't score runs when on tv, but that does a massive injustice to that hundred he scored at Hampshire when KP retired. Taylor can dominate and bat through, and is consistent, what more is needed?

    He was in the squad for the Old Trafford test, then was omitted from the ashes tour by the height quota.

    The ease with which the lions have dominated worries me slightly. Perhaps this tour shows more about the declining state of Sri Lankan cricket than the talent of our youngsters.

  • YorkshirePudding on February 21, 2014, 15:04 GMT

    I agree with jmcilhinney, in regards to taylor, he seems to have matured quite a bit since he made his debut against SA in 2012. I hope hes given a shot along with Robson this summer. With no KP and Trott being very very unlikely to play, I'd go with Cook, Robson, Root/Moeen, Taylor, Bell, Stokes, Prior/Balance, Broad, Finn, Anderson/Onions and another quick, if Root or Moeen play they should be able to cover a spinner

  • randommagician on February 21, 2014, 15:02 GMT

    So you'd pick 7 specialist batsman, Buttler at 8, Woakes at 9 and then two seamers then, dreamliner? Brilliant, that looks a wonderfully balanced team. You've also decided to drop the one real positive we can take from the Ashes, Stokes, although from how well thought-out the rest of your team is I imagine that's down to you having forgotten him rather than anything else...

  • dreamliner on February 21, 2014, 14:32 GMT

    Format aside, England need Moeen, Taylor and Robson batting in the first team alongside Cook, Bell and Morgan so we can start building match winning partnerships. Woakes would also be in my team as captain along with Onions, Broad and Buttler. And one from Carberry, Hales, a spinner or Root depending on the pitch conditions and opposition strengths.

  • jmcilhinney on February 21, 2014, 13:57 GMT

    With noone having performed in Australia and places undoubtedly up for grabs, it's hard to see how they could keep Taylor out after this. It doesn't mean that he would have made the difference during the Ashes and it doesn't mean that he'll fix England's problems but he looks capable of making a contribution to doing so, in time if not necessarily straight away. His little bit of international experience and then time away to contemplate it won't have hurt.

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  • jmcilhinney on February 21, 2014, 13:57 GMT

    With noone having performed in Australia and places undoubtedly up for grabs, it's hard to see how they could keep Taylor out after this. It doesn't mean that he would have made the difference during the Ashes and it doesn't mean that he'll fix England's problems but he looks capable of making a contribution to doing so, in time if not necessarily straight away. His little bit of international experience and then time away to contemplate it won't have hurt.

  • dreamliner on February 21, 2014, 14:32 GMT

    Format aside, England need Moeen, Taylor and Robson batting in the first team alongside Cook, Bell and Morgan so we can start building match winning partnerships. Woakes would also be in my team as captain along with Onions, Broad and Buttler. And one from Carberry, Hales, a spinner or Root depending on the pitch conditions and opposition strengths.

  • randommagician on February 21, 2014, 15:02 GMT

    So you'd pick 7 specialist batsman, Buttler at 8, Woakes at 9 and then two seamers then, dreamliner? Brilliant, that looks a wonderfully balanced team. You've also decided to drop the one real positive we can take from the Ashes, Stokes, although from how well thought-out the rest of your team is I imagine that's down to you having forgotten him rather than anything else...

  • YorkshirePudding on February 21, 2014, 15:04 GMT

    I agree with jmcilhinney, in regards to taylor, he seems to have matured quite a bit since he made his debut against SA in 2012. I hope hes given a shot along with Robson this summer. With no KP and Trott being very very unlikely to play, I'd go with Cook, Robson, Root/Moeen, Taylor, Bell, Stokes, Prior/Balance, Broad, Finn, Anderson/Onions and another quick, if Root or Moeen play they should be able to cover a spinner

  • CodandChips on February 21, 2014, 15:08 GMT

    Taylor's record in all forms demands selection. Even arguably his T20 record should be good enough to replace the likes of Wright and Bopara. I do have an issue with him that he doesn't score runs when on tv, but that does a massive injustice to that hundred he scored at Hampshire when KP retired. Taylor can dominate and bat through, and is consistent, what more is needed?

    He was in the squad for the Old Trafford test, then was omitted from the ashes tour by the height quota.

    The ease with which the lions have dominated worries me slightly. Perhaps this tour shows more about the declining state of Sri Lankan cricket than the talent of our youngsters.

  • Iddo555 on February 21, 2014, 15:36 GMT

    Dremliner keep dreaming.

    The team is already chosen and short of someone doing something terrible in the next 4 months then expect to see this rolled out:

    Cook, Root, Bell, Ballance, Morgan, Stokes, Buttler, Borthwick, Broad, Anderson, Onions.

    Taylor, Robson, Bresnan, Jordan, Woakes will be considered but I don't think they'll play unless they do something fantastic and the likes of Root, Ballance Morgan, and Onions play terribly

  • moaningmike on February 21, 2014, 15:48 GMT

    If the England selectors follow their usual practice, they will wait until Taylor is completely out of form and then pick him, give him one Test and drop him.

  • LeeHallam on February 21, 2014, 16:04 GMT

    With only Cook, Bell and Stokes sure to start in the top six, the competition for places is hotting up nicely. We need to plan without Trott, and I think England have seen enough of Carberry and Compton, and have made up their mind about them. Root and Ballance start as favourites, but a poor start to the season could cost them if others do well. Taylor, Robson, Morgan and Ali seem to be their rivals. With Woakes or Ali as cover for Stokes. The future looks very interesting, and it is fat too early to say who will line up in June.

  • o-bomb on February 21, 2014, 16:19 GMT

    I would love to see Taylor get a proper run in the test side this summer. He played twice against the best team in the world 2 years ago and had a reasonable start to his test career. I'm surprised he hasn't been picked again since. I can't for a moment believe Morgan is above him in the pecking order with his first class form over the last 2 years. If Taylor makes a good start to the season at Trent Bridge I can't see how the selectors can leave him out.

  • CodandChips on February 21, 2014, 16:25 GMT

    @salazar555 why do you think Buttler will keep? Bairstow isn't great, but got 5 catches first innings, and England have some ridiculous faith in him.

    I disagree on the side you think England will go with. I think they'll pick: 1.Cook 2.Robson 3.Root 4.Bell 5.Morgan 6.Stokes 7.Prior/Bairstow 8.Broad 9.Onions?? 10.Anderson 11.Any spinner- who knows who

    My choice: 1.Cook 2.Root/Robson 3.Bell 4.Taylor 5.Ali 6.Woakes 7.Davies 8. Broad 9.Jordan 10.Anderson 11.Kerrigan

    Give Stokes and Root a rest. Morgan should be nowhere near the side.