Taylor given chance against Australians
James Taylor, the Nottinghamshire batsman, has been given the perfect platform to stake his case for selection in the third Investec Test after he was included in the Sussex side to play a three-day match against Australia.
England may have to call on a middle-order batsman for Old Trafford if Kevin Pietersen does not recover from a calf strain that ruled him out of the final two days of the Lord's Test. The third Test begins on August 1.
Taylor's county, Nottinghamshire, have no County Championship fixtures before the third Test so an agreement was reached between the England management and Nottinghamshire to allow Taylor to play for Sussex in the tour match starting on Friday.
"This will provide James with a valuable opportunity to play in a longer format of the game while we consider our options ahead of the third Test next week," England team director Andy Flower said. "Kevin Pietersen is continuing his recovery from a calf strain and a decision about his availability for the Test will be made nearer the time."
Pietersen is likely to recover from his injury but the decision to provide an opportunity for Taylor to face Australia indicates he is England's preferred option should they need a replacement. It also indicates they are not certain Pietersen will be available.
Taylor, a diminutive right-hander who began his career at Leicestershire, was handed a Test debut against South Africa at Headingley last season and made 34 in the first innings, sharing a partnership of 147 with Pietersen that got England back into the match. But after 10 and 4 in the third Test at Lord's he was left out of the tour party for India.
His work over the winter, when he toured Australia with England Lions, did not produce immediate dividends on tour, but it has produced results this season with 824 runs in the County Championship at 58.85 including 204 not out against Sussex. He has also made 456 runs in seven Yorkshire Bank 40 matches.
His guest appearance for Sussex rules Taylor out of Nottinghamshire's final two Friends Life t20 group matches against Yorkshire on Friday and Lancashire on Sunday. Notts currently sit top of the North group but are yet to secure a quarter-final berth.
"I'm hopeful that KP will be fit to play and, as it stands, I'm preparing to play in the three-day game for Sussex and nothing more," he said.
"I'm disappointed to have to miss two big Notts matches but the Sussex fixture will give me an opportunity to get some red ball practice and then I'll wait and see.
"I'm not back in the Test side yet but I'm pleased to be a step closer to it and I've always dealt with situations like this by concentrating on the game in hand and refusing to look too far ahead."
Taylor has scored 196 runs in the competition but his director of cricket, Mick Newell is fully supportive of his England ambitions. "We want to provide James the best possible opportunity to be prepared to play in the third Test should he be required," Newell said. "While clearly he is an important player for us and will be missed on Friday and Sunday we have a proud record of producing players for England.
"We remain in close contact with James and the ECB regarding the situation and hope that he can make a contribution and be selected."
England have previously inserted players into different teams for match practise. Earlier this summer Nick Compton was allowed to play for Worcestershire against Australia, although it didn't help his quest for selection for the first Test against Australia, and in 2011 Andrew Strauss played for Somerset against India to try and regain form.