Taylor lands contract for WI first-class tournament

Steven Taylor drives over cover for a boundary to move past 1,000 career one-day runs for USA Peter Della Penna

USA captain Steven Taylor took another step forward in his pursuit of representing West Indies after he landed a contract with Jamaica Scorpions in the CWI Professional Cricket League on Friday. Taylor, 23, for the first time, secured a contract to play first-class cricket with one of the West Indies regional teams and was announced as one of the ten protected players for the franchise.

Taylor, born and raised in Florida to Jamaican immigrant parents, made his USA senior team debut against Jamaica in 2010 at age 16. He made his Caribbean Premier League debut in 2015 for Barbados Tridents and played for them again in 2016 under a $3000 rookie contract offered to players from USA or Canada who had represented a combined ICC Americas squad in the WICB Regional Super50.

The opening batsman has spent the past several years of his Florida offseason playing club cricket in Jamaica in a bid to break into the franchise team. His efforts paid off in January, when he was included in Jamaica's 50-over squad for the 2017 Regional Super50. He worked his way into the regular line-up and made a strong impression in the semi-final win over Trinidad & Tobago, striking 88 off 71 balls.

His performance in that fixture went a long way towards improving his stock ahead of the 2017 CPL draft, where he was taken in the eighth round for $30,000 by Guyana Amazon Warriors. He is one of three Associate players in the Warriors squad, along with fellow American Ali Khan and Afghanistan legspinner Rashid Khan, who was taken in the sixth round for $60,000.

In 2013, Taylor had publicly stated his ambitions about playing for West Indies. In 2015, he withdrew himself from USA's squad at the World T20 Qualifier in order to remain with Barbados Tridents in the CPL. He demonstrated renewed commitment to USA in the two years since and was named captain for USA in October 2016.

Although his primary skill is batting - Taylor is already USA's all-time leading scorer in T20 cricket and fourth all-time in one-day cricket - he has developed himself into a handy offspinner since giving up wicketkeeping in 2015. After taking over the senior team's captaincy, Taylor has bowled himself regularly and took two five-wicket hauls for USA in the last year, including 5 for 32 against Uganda at the WCL Division Three in May, that helped his side secure a 13-run win and avert relegation.