England news September 9, 2015

Taylor targets UAE Test return

James Taylor hopes his ODI century against Australia could persuade the selectors to recall him to the Test squad for the tour of the UAE.

Taylor made his maiden international hundred at Old Trafford on Tuesday, conquering a dry track, two spinners and a trio of fiery seamers in the process. With batsmen on both sides struggling to time the ball, Taylor showed admirable skill and composure in manoeuvring the ball cleverly and running like a whippet.

With similar conditions expected in the UAE - albeit against Pakistan's superior spinners - Taylor hopes the innings showed what he could contribute given another opportunity in Test cricket.

"I'm desperate to get back in the Test side," Taylor said. "I know we are going to be playing on similar wickets against good spin bowlers in the UAE, so this was nice little reminder of what I have to offer on a turning pitch where it wasn't easy to score off the slower bowlers."

Taylor's two Tests to date have brought modest returns. But an average of 16.00 disguises the fact that he added 147 with Kevin Pietersen during his first innings against South Africa, at Headingley in 2012 - his share was an unobtrusive 34, where he was happy to rotate the strike and allow Pietersen, at his absolute best, to dominate - and was run out attempting a fourth in the run chase at The Oval in his other game. It is too early to come to any conclusions about his ability at that level.

Some have, though. It is no secret that Pietersen was not overly impressed with Taylor's technique after their partnership together and it seems others in the England team have similar views. In particular, there has been some concern over his ability to play the short ball, his propensity to play across the line and his strokes outside off stump. A first-class average of 46.59 and List A average of 52.57 suggest none of those issues are causing him too much trouble.

As things stand, though, Taylor's long-term position in the ODI side is not assured. Despite his fine century, he will know that he was called into the side as a replacement for the rested Joe Root. As the experience of Michael Lumb - who scored a century on ODI debut only 18 months ago, but played only two more games - shows, taking your opportunity is not the same as securing a place in the longer term.

But Taylor hopes that his ability to bat either at No. 3 or in a finishing role offers the team a versatility that the selectors cannot ignore. His leadership qualities and ability to read the game situation have already been rewarded by an appointment as vice-captain of the ODI side for the rest of the series.

"I'm a versatile player and I'm willing to bat anywhere in the team," he said. "I love batting at three and four and I'm glad I got the opportunity. The higher I bat in the order the bigger the runs I can potentially score.

"I've got so much better over the years at playing the situation. I think that is my biggest strength: adapting to the situation put in front of me.

"We have seen in the innings at Hampshire that I can hit the ball over the ropes when I've needed to. But in Manchester I didn't need to go too hard too early and just sat back and let Eoin Morgan hit the fours and sixes."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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