Sussex v Australians, Tour match, Hove, 3rd day July 28, 2013

Taylor ready and willing for England


James Taylor has declared himself far better prepared for Test cricket now than he was on debut last year, despite conceding that his unbeaten century against the Australians in Hove was less than fluent. Taylor and his temporary county team-mate Monty Panesar both enjoyed their audition against the Australians and both will hope to face them again next week after being named in England's 14-man squad for the Old Trafford Test.

Panesar's chances of playing hinge largely on the condition of the pitch in Manchester, while Taylor's hopes rest on the condition of Kevin Pietersen's troublesome calf. Taylor, parachuted in from Nottinghamshire in order to gain some experience against the Australians, scratched around for his 121 not out and was dropped twice before he reached triple-figures but said if he received the nod in Manchester he would be ready.

"It wasn't the best innings I've played, it wasn't one of my most fluent at all, but it's about finding a way when you're not feeling in the best touch and I did that," Taylor said. "Mentally and technically I feel in a good place. I'm delighted to score runs, I don't really mind how. It's not how, it's how many, and that's how I go about my game."

Taylor's two Tests against South Africa last year brought scores of 34, 10 and 4, and he was told by the selectors to go away, work on some technical issues and churn out the runs at domestic level. He has done that, piling up 824 for Nottinghamshire in the County Championship this season, and his hundred against the Australians was his third first-class century this summer.

"I've worked hard on my game since I was left out," he said. "It was a great experience playing against South Africa but it was all too brief, and I've gone away and worked really hard since getting left out. I've piled on the runs like the selectors asked me to and I feel like I'm in a good place now.

"I was in a kind of a no-win situation in this game, but the purpose was to spend time in the middle against the red ball after all the T20 cricket in recent weeks and it was nice to do that against a decent attack. It was definitely a pressure situation - if I hadn't scored any runs everybody would have commented on that, but luckily I did and got what I needed out of the game."

Like Taylor, Panesar got what he wanted out of the match against the Australians, picking up 3 for 70 in the first innings, and it was another confidence-booster after a difficult start to the summer. Panesar has managed only 21 wickets at 40.09 during the Championship this season but he said some remedial work with Peter Such, England's spin bowling coach, had put his season back on track.

"I kind of struggled early season, I was not getting the action I wanted to get, and then I went away and did a bit of work with Peter Such on a one-to-one basis to get my action in the right order," Panesar said. "Over the Twenty20 period I've used the time to get my action in order, and in the Championship games and in the dry weather we've had I've tried to perform and prepare myself if the call came."

Panesar has an outstanding record at Old Trafford, where he has collected 25 wickets at 16.72 in three Tests, but it is five years since he last played a Test there. If, as expected, the teams are greeted with a dry pitch, a two-man spin attack could well be employed by England, and Panesar said he would fancy his chances against the Australians in such circumstances.

"The England team have put them slightly under pressure, but the Australia team is a very competitive team, they are going to come hard at us. You always feel maybe against spin there is an opportunity," he said. "But they are good players, you can't completely discard Australia, they're a competitive cricket team - but I do feel even in this game I was always in with a chance."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mike on July 31, 2013, 1:34 GMT

    KP wants 10k Test runs, he pretty much said that was his goal when he did that interview with Freddie Flintoff, so I think he will be still playing Tests in 2014.. But yes, you do get the impression he wants to sail off into the IPL sunset as he makes zillions for 6 weeks work. He will also surely go play in the BBL.

    Great shame that Monty is so one dimensional, as if he was not I think he would get selected more often. But Swanny is 34 now and yes there is Kerrigan, but for me Monty is still the 2nd best spinner we have and would get into pretty much any other side in world cricket.

  • Neil on July 30, 2013, 21:54 GMT

    KP wont be interested in retiring in any format until after the World Cup and then if he does, it will be partly do with fitness as much as anything, he picks up a lot of niggles for a batsman and he might want to cash in if he doesnt feel he has 3 or 4 years of Test Cricket in him or it might compromise his cricket altogether....but if he is fit and there are runs and records to be achieved and accolades to be garnished, he is too proud and too much of a competitor to jack it in.....although I wouldnt put things beyond another spat about being rested for a tour. Taylor is next in line and did what was asked of him in the Sussex game, he still has to convince me a bit....but equally I think pressure is on Bairstow...his game is riddled with as many flaws as it is with obvious flair and cant all be about grafting in this English set up, so I hope their faith in a genuine shot maker like Bairstow pays off

  • H on July 30, 2013, 17:22 GMT

    @GiantScrub it's probably 6 of one. I agree with everything you've said. He's got an excellent work ethic, but for some reason his bowling's just never come on as you'd have hoped. On the right pitch, he's brilliant, on the wrong one, next to useless.

    The problem is, can that ever make him our number 1 spinner? I've got no problems with Panesar being our number 2, but I don't agree with the idea that just because he's arguably a better bowler than Swann on a turning pitch that he should be take Swann's place. We play most of our Tests on flat or seam-friendly wickets. Had this summer not been unseasonably dry, I doubt we'd have seen the pitches we've seen so far in this series. And I'm not a fan of overdoing "horses for courses" selections.

    Whether Monty takes over from Swann when he retires is another matter, but even then I suspect his future's out of his (huge) hands. If Kerrigan keeps developing we may opt to blood him sooner rather than later and let him learn on the Test stage.

  • Dan on July 30, 2013, 13:07 GMT

    H_Z_O: I've said this in other threads this week, but I really feel that Monty's various awfulness and brilliance can both be explained by his bowling style and the pitches rather than by any mental failures, though it's sometimes hard to disagree with the famous Warne comment about him that he's played the same test 33 times especially in that horrible run of form that led to him being dropped in 2009. It's simply that he puts no air on the ball, but as much spin as possible, and darts it in every time. This makes him unplayable when the pitch is wearing, as the natural variation off the pitch combined with his own turn and speed make it very hard to play him. However, when the pitch is flat, those same darts turn into horrible little 60mph legcutters and he can't beat the batsman in the air. This means that if the pitch is a road, Monty is going to be the guy who takes 0/200 from 50 overs and gets dropped.

  • H on July 29, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    @Train Stationer yeah, Panesar was brilliant in India. With Swann at the other end. In New Zealand he was woeful and even Bruce Martin out-bowled him.

    The Indian pitches probably suited him better, but I also question whether he's just the kind of guy that can't handle the pressure of expectation. When he's the second spinner, he just has to bowl, and if he gets wickets, great, but if not, and if Swann's not taking them, then the blame will fall on Swanny as the #1 spinner.

    That's not just based on his time in New Zealand, but his time before Swann came into the side, when he was the undisputed #1 spinner (after Giles was dropped). I felt like he only ever bowled well on really responsive surfaces, and when the pitch offered nothing, and the batsmen came after him, he wilted.

    I think Monty's career will end up being a case-study in how no amount of talent is enough to overcome a shortcoming in temperament. Test cricket is played between the ears. Colly's an example of the opposite.

  • Dummy4 on July 29, 2013, 16:04 GMT

    Time for Swann to go, he's been out of form for near on two years. panesar was brilliant in India and should play ahead of Swann. Taylor looked hopelessly out of his depth last year, and a knock at Hove really doesn't say much.What about playing lees if we must have six batsmen?

  • David on July 29, 2013, 13:22 GMT

    Is it not possible to find a better coach for Monty Panesar? What's he going to learn from Peter Such? How to float in non-spinning balls from around off-stump? No wonder he has not kicked on from his most promising start in test cricket - the English county set-up has squeezed the flair out of his game. We need an Asian coach, someone who actually knows about spinning the ball.

  • Peter on July 29, 2013, 12:41 GMT

    Pietersen isn't going to be kicked out any time soon. Batsmen can play on to their late 30's. They could maybe introduce a young batsmen or two in tests that aren't that important such as Bangladesh, Zimbabwe so when the time comes they are needed on a full time basis they aren't completely new to the whole thing

  • Chris on July 29, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone know the number of English players that have scored first class hundreds for three different county sides? I'm not sure if Taylor counts (Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Sussex(?)) but I'd be interested to know of any others.

  • Samuel on July 29, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    Find it amazing that somehow a gritty knock when he clearly isn't in his best form (something to do with the amount of T20 cricket being played perhaps? Although worth pointing out in his last couple of FC games he didn't set the world alight) is somehow seen as a negative. Run-scoring, especially at Test level, is about finding a way. Sounds to me like Taylor managed to do that. He was struggling for fluency and obviously under pressure from both himself and the selectors to perform. That he found a way suggests a good temperament.