New Zealand coach Mike Hesson has revealed that consideration was given to Ross Taylor retiring hurt when he suffered a leg injury in Dunedin before he rampaged to a career-best unbeaten 181 to set up a series decider in Christchurch on Saturday.
Taylor will spend the next 24 hours in a race to recover enough to take his place for the final match of the series, but there is no chance he will be 100% fit and won't be risked if there could be a long-term impact on him despite the importance of this match. New Zealand's season concludes with two Tests against England in Auckland and Christchurch at the end of March.
Taylor, who missed the third ODI in Wellington with a quad injury, aggravated the problem when he dived to make his ground coming back for a second run. That was then compounded when he suffered cramp and New Zealand pondered whether, with Taylor struggling between the wickets, they would be better served with a fully fit batsman in the middle.
Ultimately the decision was made that while Taylor was still able to bat he would remain in the middle: from the moment he injured himself he went on to score 72 off 41 balls as New Zealand chased down 336 with three balls remaining.
"We talked about it," Hesson said of bringing Taylor off. "Kane [Williamson] and I talked with Tommy [Latham] as well. We thought if Ross could get us another 20-25 runs at that point quickly that will keep us in the game. If he'd come off it would have been very difficult to go back on because he could seize up. The fact Ross got more than 25 was obviously very helpful for us."
Hesson described Taylor's innings, the highest score by a New Zealand batsman in a chase and the third highest overall, as "great", but a sensible decision will have to made with regards the deciding match.
"Ross, he's got some very, very, good hundreds for us. You don't use the word great often, but that was a great hundred. Any side in the world, that would be considered a great hundred," he said. "It was a high-class innings. Even put the injury to one side, 181 not out in a chase like that and a crucial game, was great. We needed something special and we certainly got it
"We need to know the extent of it and whether it's one of those injuries that can get worse or whether you can grin and bear it. We're just not sure yet...potentially he could be out for months. Once we know that we can make an educated decision over whether it is worth the risk or whether he genuinely needs a good break before the Tests."
Taylor himself, speaking the morning after the innings and on his 34th birthday, acknowledged he will be patched up if he does make the Christchurch encounter.
"I obviously won't be 100% but we'll have to wait and see with the next couple of days off and give it the best chance possible," Taylor told Radio Sport Breakfast. "I was just cramping in the forearm. I was thinking 'oh no'. It was locked forward when I hit it out to cover. How embarrassing.
"I hurt my hip in the last game. Just the hip and quad. It wasn't [one of] the most elegant dives you've ever seen. Just felt it a little bit. So got the physio out and as I batted on, cramp started setting in as well."
Mark Chapman, who played the second and third ODIs as cover for Williamson and Taylor, has been brought back into the squad.