Cricket

James Taylor's hundred in Kimberley continued a fine run of 50-over form.

James Taylor makes strong case for England ODI role against South Africa

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James Taylor is confident he will be in England's first-choice team for the start of their limited-overs series against South Africa after a match-winning century continued his fine run of 50-over form.

Taylor's 116 was the outstanding performance in a 163-run trouncing of South Africa A which featured heartening contributions throughout with bat and ball in England's only fixture before the first of five one-day internationals in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.

The diminutive batsman's 15th List A hundred followed a sequence in which he has scored more than 300 runs over his last seven ODI innings, stretching back to his maiden England hundred at Old Trafford against Australia in September.

It is hard to imagine anyone being left out in that sort of form, but the complication for Taylor is that all those runs have come in a team missing - through injury or rotation - a regular such as fellow batsman Joe Root or pivotal all-rounder Ben Stokes.

They were watching again at the Diamond Oval on Saturday as Taylor was the mainstay from number three in a total of 368 for seven, which included too a 28-ball fifty for big-hitting Jonny Bairstow.

Reece Topley, Chris Jordan and Adil Rashid each took three wickets to bowl the hosts out in only 30.5 overs.

Root, Stokes and two more Test regulars will be available for selection against South Africa, but it appeared a surprise to Taylor when he was asked whether he expects to be in action again this week.

"I certainly hope so," he said. "I think I've done really well. Over the last eight or nine months, we've won a lot of cricket matches against good opposition - and I've been a part of that.

"I hope I can continue being a part of that. It's up to me to keep scoring runs ... at the moment I'm doing that, so fingers crossed I'll be in that side.

"I feel really comfortable at this level, and I hope I can show that in this series."

He concedes there is much competition for places in an improving team but does not see that as his problem.

"This one-day side is tough to pick, and that's the way you want it," Taylor said. "The likes of Joe Root and Ben Stokes have got to come back into the side. You want healthy competition.

"It's not a headache I'm going to have - it's for the selectors, head coach and captain. It's a tough decision."

Whether he gets the nod or not, Taylor could hardly have given a much better demonstration of his capabilities.

"It was good fun out there," he said. "It was tough to get in on at first on that slow wicket, but I was happy that I went at a decent rate all the way through.

"I was only able to do that because the guys at the other end made it very easy today - they played some great shots, and the way Chris Jordan and Jonathan Bairstow struck it was great to watch."

Root appears inked in at number three in England's ODI line-up, and when the Yorkshireman last played in the format - against Pakistan in Dubai - Taylor found himself down at number six.

Taylor said: "As long as we're winning, and I'm scoring runs, wherever I bat I'm not really fussed. I've batted at a number of positions for England, and in counties, so I'm pretty comfortable."

England can only await developments, amid uncertainty about the readiness of Delhi to stage matches at the forthcoming ICC World Twenty20.

England are scheduled to play two group fixtures in Delhi in late March, against a qualifier and then champions Sri Lanka, with a semi-final also set to take place there.

But reports in India cite a deadline on Sunday to sign off the venue, which has already lost a fixture between India and Sri Lanka next month for the same administrative reasons, or move matches elsewhere.

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