Raw promise starts to mature
The Lowdown on Jerome Taylor, the young West Indian quick who is making promising strides on his return to international action
With so much cricket played these days it is often difficult to keep track of who is who and what they are doing. In this weekly feature Cricinfo will take a look at one player who is making the news, whether at the highest level or as an aspiring talent, and tell you what they are all about. This week, it's the turn of Jerome Taylor, the young West Indian quick who has returned from injury.
Timber: Jerome Taylor makes Brendan Taylor wish he'd used his bat
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The names of West Indian quicks used to roll off the tongue - Holding, Marshall, Ambrose, Walsh - but now it is a harder task to identify the new-ball enforcers. Plenty have been given a chance since the end of the power-house attack in the mid-nineties, from flash-in-the-pan successes of Franklyn Rose and Merv Dillon, to the young extroverts like Tino Best and Fidel Edwards, who were plucked from domestic cricket after just a handful of games. Another of those raw recruits was Jerome Taylor, and his recent performances have suggested that he is one for West Indies to build their future around.
Like many young fast bowlers, Taylor's career has been beset by injury and he is only now starting to find his feet. He made his Test and one-day international debut in June 2003 but a serious back problem meant he didn't feature in the national team from late 2003 until February this year. That lengthy period out of the game could just have been a blessing in disguise.
Given the current fragile nature of the West Indies team, and their constant search to recapture the glory days of a four-pronged pace attack, the temptation to rush Taylor back into action would have been strong. There had certainly been no worries about rushing him into the team in the first place. He was just 18 years old, with a solitary one-day match for Jamaica under his belt, when he was called into the West Indies squad against Sri Lanka.
Taylor returned on the 2005-06 tour of New Zealand, but the more significant strides were made in the otherwise insignificant series against Zimbabwe. One spell of bowling stood out: he'd bowled a series of inswingers to Terry Duffin - the left-handed Zimbabwe captain - the last of which castled him. The next man in Brendan Taylor, a right-hander, was expecting a similar-shaped delivery, but he was completely out-thought when the delivery boomed back in as he shouldered arms. Regardless of the quality of opposition it was a smart piece of bowling. A thinking bowler is a dangerous bowler.
Taylor has backed up his solid series against Zimbabwe with a promising start against India's powerful batting line-up and has proved that, if he stays fit, he has the potential to mix it with the best.
"I always want to be the greatest fast bowler ever"
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Named as the most promising fast bowler in the 2003 Carib Beer Series, after picking up 21 wickets at 20.14 in six first-class matches
Makes comeback against New Zealand at Wellington
but is subbed out after bowling five overs
Wins man-of-the-match award in first two ODIs against Zimbabwe in Antigua
Removes Mohammad Kaif and Mahendra Singh Dhoni as West Indies sneak to a one-run with in Jamaica
In 22 first-class matches he has taken 67 wickets at just 22 apiece with four five-wicket hauls, two ten-wicket hauls and a best of 8 for 59.
What he says - No.1
"The start-stop nature of my career has been somewhat frustrating for me, but to be honest, you cannot prevent injuries. You can only minimise the chances of getting them." - Talking to Caribbeancricket.com
What he says - No. 2
"I always want to be the greatest fast bowler ever. That is how I think about myself. I have the confidence in myself to do it and I do believe that I'm going to prove it some day."
What they say - Brian Lara during the New Zealand tour
"Just to see him bowl a few overs in Auckland and you know the guy's got something to him."
What you may not know
It wasn't actually Taylor who received the phonecall to tell him about his first call-up in 2003, but his coach at the Shell Academy in Grenada, Roger Harper. "I was a bit late for the class, but just in time to get the good news ... I spent about three minutes outside just to get the smile off."
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo