Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
New Zealand batter Ross Taylor has toasted the side's World Test Championship victory, saying it will "make up" for the 2019 World Cup heartbreak at Lord's, where they lost without actually losing the final to England.
"I guess at the start of my career, there was a few ups and downs," Taylor said during a virtual media interaction on Wednesday. "We played in a few inconsistent sides, but, no, I guess over the last few years, the team has built into a fantastic consistent side and after the heartbreak of the 2019 World Cup, this is definitely the highlight and I think probably makes up for that."
Fittingly, it was Taylor, New Zealand's highest run-getter in Test cricket, who sealed the win on the sixth day with a shovelled four off his legs to the midwicket boundary. Taylor, however, refused to see it as "his moment" and fondly looked back at finishing things off with his captain Kane Williamson.
"…Once the winning runs were hit, walking off with him [Willamson] and the discussions afterwards, it's something that I'll never forget," he said. "It was still touch and go when I went out there to bat; to get through that hard period and Kane's been a fantastic captain and ambassador for the game and our country. And for him to be out there and on that last ball before, he sort of gave me a stare: 'hurry up and finish it' so that he doesn't have to. So it was nice to hit the boundary and celebrate what was a tough match with a lot of hard work over the last two or so years."
Immediately after Taylor hit the winning runs, he embraced Williamson, patted him on his head, and exchanged glove punches, with the New Zealand fans celebrating in the background. The image of the pair walking off the ground together has become iconic, with the public even suggesting it should be immortalised as a statue at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.
"It was just nice to have been there," Taylor said. "But, I think, I've seen the photo a lot. A lot of people have sent it to me and I think the photo of Kane and I come off probably speaks louder than words. The photo says it all, I think. Obviously, we were very happy with what we had achieved but also there was a little bit of relief in there too that we were finally able to get one across the line.
"After the heartbreak of 2019, it was nice to finally be out there and be there with Kane and go and celebrate it with a lot of guys - BJ [BJ Watling], Boulty [Trent Boult], Tim [Southee], a lot of guys who have been in this team and experienced a lot of highs and lows over a long period of time.
"I'll leave that [having a statue at the Basin Reserve] to the people to decide but I'm sure if you ask Kane, I know what the answer will be."
'Just want to keep playing cricket' - Taylor brushes aside retirement talk
In a recent interview with the ICC, Taylor admitted that, had the 2019 final not turned out as it did, he might have retired after that tournament (or after that summer). On Wednesday, the 37-year-old was asked again whether he was tempted to retire now that he had experienced the high of winning the inaugural WTC, but he brushed it off, saying he still had the drive to play and perform for New Zealand as well as his domestic side Central Districts.
"It's still sinking in that we can call ourselves world champions, but I'm still loving the game of cricket," Taylor said. "I still want to learn and still get better, so that's a good sign. But, yeah, at this stage I just want to keep playing cricket, whatever level that is, for as long as I can... New Zealanders for whatever reason retire at 34 or 35, and once I got to 37 I can understand why they do - you get asked the question a lot, your age comes into question a lot more when you do things exactly the same as what you were doing two years ago, but you're doing them wrong because of your age which is sometimes a bit hard to swallow. Regardless of when I do pull up stumps, I still feel like I can play domestic cricket, I still love playing for my country and I still love playing for Central Districts as well."
Taylor's T20I future, however, is uncertain after he had been dropped from that side during New Zealand's last home summer and was asked to prove his form and fitness in the Super Smash for the Central Stags. Glenn Phillips seamlessly slotted into the middle order instead and ultimately won his first central contract after featuring in each of the 14 T20Is New Zealand played over the 2019-20 home summer. Taylor hasn't played a T20I since November 2020, and doesn't see a spot opening up for him anytime soon.
"No, I haven't really thought about anything as I said. My main focus over the last sort of while was just to do everything I can to make the [T20] World Cup side," he said. "My calf and hammy were playing up leading into that. No, I think the team is pretty settled in the Twenty20 side, and there's a lot of cricket to be played before and after that. No, I don't see the team changing much in the near future."