'Wasn't contacted by WICB about injury before IPL'
Jerome Taylor, the West Indies fast bowler who returned to competitive cricket in the IPL after another break due to injury, has said the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) did not contact him about the injury until he arrived in India to play for the Pune Warriors.
Taylor, who last played for West Indies in June 2010, wasn't picked for the home ODI series against Pakistan. It led Michael Holding to question, during series commentary, as to why Taylor had then been cleared by the WICB to play in the IPL. Taylor said he was told his back injury sustained during the domestic first-class competition in the Caribbean earlier this year "was nothing to keep me out for too long." This assessment, Taylor said, came from Dr. Akshai Mansingh, part of the WICB medical panel, whom he was sent to meet during the tournament.
Taylor missed the previous two IPL seasons due to other injuries but this year has bowled with good pace and rhythm. Explaining his decision to play in the IPL, Taylor told ESPNcricinfo: "I had asked the WICB for an NOC due to the fact that I wasn't a contracted player with the WICB. I was in a preparation camp for the Four Day tournament and didn't get selected in the 30-man preliminary squad for the World Cup, which none of the selectors said anything to me about even though I was fit enough to be preparing for the first-class competition.
"I wasn't sure I was going to be selected, so I had to keep my options open. It was a case where I didn't want to be at home waiting to be selected, not get picked and let this opportunity pass me for a third year in a row."
The only communication he had with the board before arriving in India, Taylor said, was a chat with selector Robert Haynes during the Four Day tournament and an exchange of e-mails about his no-objection certificate for playing in the IPL with the board CEO Ernest Hilaire. "But no one contacted me about my injury before I came here," Taylor said. It was only after he reached India, he added, that he'd been contacted by the board about his fitness.
"On April 7, 2011, after I had arrived in India, I received an e-mail from Dr. Hilaire - and the Pune Warriors management and medical staff also let me know - that he needed a report on my medical status for his purposes of informing the IPL (about my fitness). "
Taylor's career in international cricket has been beset by a back injury among others, limiting his availability to 29 Tests after he'd been identified as among the most promising fast-bowling prospects for West Indies when he made his debut in 2003. He reiterated he was "still aspiring to lead the West Indies attack" and that the IPL was a platform to "give a good account of myself."
In a broader interview, Taylor also said he didn't think leaving out senior players from the ODI side was helpful since West Indies will be playing "against tough teams" this year and therefore needed the right combination of youth and experience if they were going to be successful.
"We're not here to just play cricket and represent West Indies; we need people who can actually compete. We're winning games but we need to start winning series and tournaments. We need to make sure that we're seriously challenging teams and pushing them close."
In his five IPL matches, Taylor has taken six wickets at 26.16 and admitted that while injuries had forced him to cut down on pace, he is focused on delivering on the field. "I'm not sure what they [selectors] are thinking right now but what can I do more than go out there and perform? That's my focus right now. I have to make sure I'm performing and I'm fit, and the rest is left in their hands.
"At this moment my body is feeling good and I'm up for it and I have to make sure that I put the best of Jerome Taylor out on the park."
Siddhartha Talya is a sub editor at ESPNcricinfo