England batsman James Taylor provided the national selectors with a timely reminder of his Test match credentials, with an outstanding 204 not out in Nottinghamshire’s high scoring draw with Sussex at Trent Bridge.
Taylor’s chances of playing a part in this summer’s Ashes series were boosted by Nick Compton’s omission from the England team to play Essex in a warm-up match yesterday and he backed this up with an innings of outstanding maturity that lasted more than 500 minutes.
Taylor remains hopeful of adding to his two test match appearances this summer and did his chances no harm as he helped Nottinghamshire to a draw against unbeaten Sussex. Resuming on 203-6 and with Taylor 81 not out after a flurry of late wickets from Monty Panesar.
After Sussex’s mammoth first innings score of 506-5, Taylor’s steady head guided Nottinghamshire away from any possibility of defeat as he shared a stand of 200 with Ajmal Shahzad (77).
England’s selectors will also have had an eye on the Trent Bridge pitch, the location for the First Ashes Test in just over two weeks time, as Taylor’s was the third double century scored at the ground in just nine days, following efforts from Michael Lumb and Ed Joyce. On a track that appears to be a mid-summer batting paradise, a First Test draw seems increasingly likely.
Taylor made his Test debut batting at number six for England against South Africa last summer and, while he may not have set the world alight, laid a solid platform and showed plenty of raw potential. Many feel he has been treated harshly since but perhaps a stint back in the county game has been exactly what the young man needed.
While Joe Root has most certainly overtaken the Nottinghamshire man in the pecking order, Jonny Bairstow’s place in the side remains far from secure and should England suffer a middle order crisis in the course of the summer, Taylor’s name will certainly be one of the first to be touted as a potential replacement after enjoying another fine year. Bairstow will now certainly feel the need to contribute against Essex after having to carry the drinks (and subsequently play no cricket at all) for a fortnight at the Champions Trophy.
So far this term he has scored 770 runs at an average of 59.23 in the Championship, while also showing fine form in Nottinghamshire’s excellent YB40 campaign, averaging 114 in 7 games.
In a career in which so much has already happened by the age of just 23 (success at two counties, captain of England A, 6,000 first class runs including four double tons, two Test caps), an England recall this summer would not be a total surprise. For a man who is just 23, it feels like Taylor has been around for years.
Nonetheless, the fact that Taylor has not played in ANY of England’s myriad Test, ODI or T20 matches since the Test against South Africa at Lords last year is nothing short of bemusing, considering the form he has shown in this period. Perhaps the selectors feel that at just five foot six he is vulnerable to high class short pitched bowling. Perhaps they feel that too many of his runs have been scored in the County Championship’s second division or on roads designed for flat-track bullies. Or maybe they are just waiting until they feel the time is exactly right to blood him for an extended period in the side.
Whatever the reason, if Taylor sticks to his guns and continues to do what he has been doing of late, scoring big runs, the calls for his selection may become irresistible, especially if England are caught off-guard by a Darren Lehmann-inspired Australia.
Compton will remain next cab off the rank but if England find themselves in trouble in the middle order, it may be Taylor, so popular with Messrs Broad and Swann of Nottinghamshire, who the selectors call first.
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