Ross Taylor sets sights on 100 Tests

Ross Taylor walks back to the pavilion after falling seven runs short of a century Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images

Ross Taylor, New Zealand's 34-year old batting mainstay, wants to play 100 Tests before he thinks about retiring from the game. He is 15 matches away from the mark and there is a likelihood that it could happen in Sydney in 2020.

Taylor is set to leave with the New Zealand squad for a full tour of the UAE, where they play Pakistan in three T20Is, three ODIs and three Tests from October 31. The team is coming out of a seven-month break from cricket - their previous series was in March-April when they hosted England - but the cricketers themselves have kept busy hopping around T20 leagues and the English county circuit.

"I've always said I want to get to the World Cup. Obviously the Boxing Day Test in Australia is a nice incentive also," Taylor told Stuff.co.nz. "I wouldn't mind playing 100 Tests. But that is still a long way away and I've got to get these hammies and calves and rest of the body in some decent shape to hopefully get there."

Injury has recently been a theme in Taylor's career. There was the growth in his cornea that made it hard for him to see the ball and contributed to a prolonged form slump after he scored a monumental 290 against Australia in November 2015. He tore his calf during a series against South Africa in 2017 and his hamstrings gave way while he made a splendid 181 not out against England in 2018.

Taylor has since recovered from those issues and has been globe-trotting with his wife and three kids, occasionally playing some cricket. They were in Nottinghamshire for three months, where he scored 506 runs in 15 innings, with a century and four fifties, and then flew to the West Indies, where he made 220 runs in nine CPL innings for Jamaica Tallawahs.

"Some days you've got to be honest and you think you're close to retiring, and some days you feel like you could still play for two-three years at international level," Taylor said. "You're a long time retired and you don't want to make any rash decisions on form or emotion.

"Just continue to play like you've still got a bit left in the tank but knowing that most of the countries you go to, it'll probably be the last time you travel there so make the most of it and enjoy the experience and not look too far ahead."

New Zealand's series against Pakistan will be their first since Mike Hesson resigned as coach and Gary Stead replaced him.

"He's [Stead] very hands on compared to Hess. I'm looking forward to working with him," Taylor said. "Already he's had a chat to me about batting and he'll work well with [batting coach Craig McMillan]. A batting coach overseeing 15 or 16 players can be quite daunting and he'll take a lot of pressure off Macca and bring his own experiences as an international player. I'm sure it'll be good for the team and myself."

Taylor's form has been on the up ever since the start of 2017. He's amassed 2043 all-format runs at an average of 60 and now stands equal with his mentor the late Martin Crowe on 17 Test centuries. And although there was talk of him being surplus to requirements in T20 cricket, Taylor preferred being around the national set-up as much as possible.

"I want to play as many games for New Zealand as possible. The day you just play one format, or even two, your level of performance will probably drop a bit.

"You might be in and out of the side, but facing the touring team regardless of the format helps you out. Also just being in the New Zealand set-up and that higher level of training compared with domestic cricket where the resources aren't quite the same."