James Taylor is determined to make the most of his recall to the England ODI squad for their impending tour of Sri Lanka, and to earn himself a place in the 15-player party that will travel down under for the 2015 World Cup.
The diminutive batsman’s only previous England exploits have come against sides at opposite ends of the international spectrum. Two Tests at home to South Africa and two ODIs against Ireland so far fill his CV.
But consistent scoring in county cricket has given the 24-year-old another chance to exhibit his talents on the world stage.
Taylor is part of the 15-man squad that is jetting out to Sri Lanka for a seven-match 50-over series throughout November and December. With places at the World Cup up for grabs, the Nottinghamshire batsman is aiming to enjoy a longer stay with the national team this time around.
Speaking at the launch of Royal London’s sponsorship of the PCA Benevolent Fund at Lord’s, Taylor said: “Yeah it’s a massive opportunity as it is for everyone else in the squad. I’ve been frustrated to say the least that I haven’t had another - or more consistent - shot.
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“But now I’ve finally got my opportunity so it’s up to me to take it and I’ll be planning on doing that in Sri Lanka.”
Despite his short 5”6 frame the World Cup hopeful doesn’t feel that his height has been a hindrance in his career thus far.
“As you’ve seen over the last six months, I can hit the ball just as far as anybody and as cleanly as most so that definitely, in my eyes, has never proved a problem. I can hit the ball harder than a lot of people and height, I hope, has never been an issue,” said Taylor.
And his ability to send the ball to all sections of a stadium will be called upon against the Sri Lankans in the coming weeks. Taylor’s versatility as a batsman means that he can operate between number three and number six in the order, and that could be an attribute that gets him on the plane to Australia and New Zealand after Christmas.
His flexibility is a strength the 24-year-old is acutely aware of: “As I’ve shown, I can bat from three to six. In the one-day format I bat three or four and I’ve scored consistently there in the last few years and then in the Twenty20 format I’ve batted five and scored, and won games, and finished them for Notts and Leicestershire.
“I can perform in pressure situations and like you see in all those games on TV, in most of them I won the games for Nottinghamshire in pressure situations. In every single game you saw a different side of me, a different innings from me, which shows that I can adapt to situations and in every single game my temper was totally different so that’s my biggest strength - rising to the occasion.”
A triangular series against Australia and India follows the Sri Lanka tour, so there is plenty of limited-overs cricket to be played, providing ample auditioning for England players to make a place in the team their own.
Taylor’s most recent trip to Sri Lanka came with the Lions earlier this year when he enjoyed a clinical spell of run scoring, including an unbeaten knock of 242.
“I would love to see what I average against Sri Lanka in four-day cricket and in one-day cricket for the Lions, but obviously international cricket is very different. I’ll take my confidence from the Lions because I’ll be playing against a lot of the guys I’ve already played against but international cricket comes with different pressures but I’m very confident going into the tour,” said Taylor.
“This will be my fourth tour to Sri Lanka - I was there last in February and March and I scored heavily for the Lions there so I’ve been in those conditions plenty of times before.”
The right-hander averaged 65 from his five matches in Sri Lanka earlier this year, and a repeat performance would surely put him within reach of a World Cup debut.
England’s current ICC ODI ranking of fifth doesn’t diminish Taylor’s enthusiasm about what the future may hold for Alastair Cook’s side.
He added: “If you look at the side on paper and the number of exciting and talented players in the squad, you’ve got a great mix of youth and experience there and it’s an exciting time for England as a team and for individuals coming through.”
The former Leicestershire batsman is just one of those individuals striving for a place on England’s 2015 Cricket World Cup adventure and his cause will be aided by regular runs in Sri Lanka.
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