Talk about pressure. At the MCC welcome lunch for the New Zealand team on Tuesday, Geoffrey Boycott cast an eye my way and announced, "Lad, don't be playing those Twenty20 shots, you're in my fantasy team". Suddenly, it was not just a Test match at Lord's that was playing on my mind.
Being in England does that to you. I may have been one of the first players to experience the Indian Premier League, but here I'm just one of the Test cricketers who has arrived at Lord's wanting to achieve the ultimate honours-board recognition.
We have an inexperienced team and many of our guys are playing at Lord's for the first time tomorrow. For Aaron Redmond and Daniel Flynn, their Tests debuts are on the most intimidating stage of all. It's not the pitch, the atmosphere or the opposition players. Rather, there is a mystique that only a cricketer could understand. I imagine it's like how it is for a budding actor making it to Holly (or Bolly) wood, or a wannabe model making it to the catwalks of Milan.
Every serious cricketer's dream is to play at Lord's, despite the nerves that might accompany it. Thankfully for me, the famous walk from the dressing room, down the stairs, through the long room and the gate, onto the hallowed turf is something I have experienced already, when I was the New Zealand Young Cricketer to Lord's in 2002. Now I only have to deal with the MCC members in their red-and-yellow ties.
I felt the Lord's buzz back then that Daniel, Aaron and the other guys playing their first game here tomorrow will feel. For my part, I'm relishing the challenge of playing my first Test at Lord's.
Every player thinks about making it onto the honours board in the away-team dressing room. Brendon McCullum almost made it on the 2004 tour (he made 96). Mark Richardson (2004) and Matt Horne (1999) both made it with a ton, and I'd love to emulate them. The achievement that stands out for me is that of Dion Nash, one of our current selectors, who features twice from the same game, when he got a five-for in both innings in 1994.
I've been elevated to the No.4 position after just five Test matches. With our team having changed a lot recently, especially with the retirements from Test cricket of Stephen Fleming and Scott Styris, I'm now in the spot traditionally reserved for the team's premier batsman. As I see it, I'm the only one in the top four with a Test hundred and it's a brilliant opportunity for me to help kickstart a new era for New Zealand cricket.
|It's not the pitch, the atmosphere or the opposition; rather, there is a mystic that only a cricketer could understand. I imagine it's like a budding actor making it to Holly (or Bolly) wood or a wannabe model making it to the catwalks of MilanRoss Taylor on the lure of playing at Lord's|
As I write this I'm thinking about what it will be like, warming up on the Nursery Ground with loads of fans watching. One thing I know for sure is that the Beige Brigade will be there. As players, we have the utmost respect for what they have created. I'd encourage any Kiwi fan in England reading this to come in beige. That stuff spurs us on.
This will be the biggest crowd I've played in front of so far on tour, yet a full house at Lord's will be dwarfed by the 45,000-plus who watched my team, the Bangalore Royal Challengers, in the IPL. That was something else. I thought I'd be lucky to get one game and I ended up playing four of the five games I was available for. I'll never have Rahul Dravid's iconic status in India but I'm really excited about hopefully becoming part of the cricketing revolution that the IPL is driving.
It will take time, though. One thing I did notice is that the fans in India enjoyed the IPL primarily for the quality of the cricket. I think it is probably too early to start comparing the IPL to the Premier League football in England. As a player for the Royal Challengers in a tournament in its infancy, I still need to prove myself to the fans in Bangalore. Just as in Manchester, as players we have to realise that we don't have a right to fans' support; we have to earn it. I'd love to be back in the IPL next year. Guess I'd better make some runs at Lord's this week.
New Zealand middle-order batsman Ross Taylor's diaries will appear on Cricinfo through the England series. Taylor spoke to Andrew McLean, an expatriate cricket writer based in London