Chris Rattue 's Opinion

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Why all this haste? Don't rush Taylor back

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Ross Taylor reacts after an injury. Photo / Getty Images
Ross Taylor reacts after an injury. Photo / Getty Images

Forget the one day rubbish and save Ross Taylor for the test series against South Africa.

The thrill of New Zealand's brilliant opening test win over Zimbabwe, who played with the finesse of a club side, was heavily tempered by the sight of Taylor's right calf muscle failing as he attempted a single.

The heart sank quicker than Taylor did when the New Zealand captain faltered. He is our best batsman and is just establishing himself as an international leader, and a very promising one so far.

With New Zealand reasserting themselves via a four-man pace attack under a new regime, our test cricket is on a long-awaited upward curve that will hopefully deliver a series victory against the powerful South Africans and their superstar allrounder Jacques Kallis. The three-test series throughout March will be a rare treat, a match up against strong, committed opponents rather than the flotsam and jetsam that often tour here.

New Zealand cricketers seem more injury prone than those from other countries. The worst case was Shane Bond, whose potential as one of the finest quick bowlers in history ended up in a sling. From Martin Crowe to a host of lesser lights, the casualty ward has called far too often. The last thing we need right now is Taylor limping in and out of the side because he was rushed back for the one dayers, which start on February 25.

Taylor had hardly left the Napier arena before his Twitter bulletin announced he would be out for three to four weeks. The team physio, Paul Close, was quoted as saying: "While it is early days, our target is to have Ross available for the one-day series against South Africa in late February." Why all this haste? And who cares about the one dayers?

In stark contrast to that, the test series is a pivotal moment in our cricketing fortunes. This country is starved of legitimate test action and cricket lovers will be salivating at the thought of a classic series battle and the chance for players such as Doug Bracewell to establish their reputations and a new era of success.

A New Zealand team apparently on the rise also has a chance to send a message to the ICC, that they warrant major series against the superpowers. The victory in Tasmania was sensational but a bad reversal at home against South Africa would be disastrous.

The one dayers are a bit of fun in the sun to keep the masses happy, but the format is tired and the results barely significant. The last thing Taylor's dicey calf muscle needs is the constant demand for quick movement so soon after a grade two tear. Having misjudged the existing injury in Napier, the New Zealand camp needs to err on the side of caution on the eve of such an important series.

John Wright and his fellow decision makers, including Taylor, must know the significance of the test series against South Africa and Taylor's importance to the New Zealand side. He HAS to be fit for the tests.

I managed to watch a bit of the Australian Open women's final before the screams of the two combatants sent me scurrying for the safety of any other channel. Why tennis authorities have allowed this ridiculous yelling - which rates as cheating designed to distract opponents in my opinion - to continue is one of sport's most annoying mysteries? Women's tennis can take a running jump while this continues - the overall standard is hopeless so giving it a miss is no sacrifice anyway.

MAGIC MOMENT

The New Zealand record basketball crowd which turned up to watch the Breakers beat the Kings.

- NZ Herald

Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Read more by Chris Rattue

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