Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Richardson: Skipper inspires at ideal moment

New Zealand captain Ross Taylor (right) celebrates scoring a century . Photo / AP
New Zealand captain Ross Taylor (right) celebrates scoring a century . Photo / AP

Thank goodness for that. Regardless of what happens in this test, the runs that Ross Taylor scored mean so much more than their contribution to the end result.

Some of the doubts over Taylor's captaincy came from a perceived lack of batting form. Hopefully this innings will alleviate some of that pressure. If Taylor has any doubts about his abilities as captain, the last we need is him doubting his batting skills too.

In New Zealand cricket's current state, Taylor's runs are more important than his leadership. A great captain would not inspire this team to significant improvement. I say that because he doesn't have the cattle to work with.

Taylor's most influential contribution to his team is to score more runs - and to score the way he did on Friday.

Taylor is our best test batsman. He has to be the catalyst for change by playing captain's knocks like the latest.

This is how he can inspire.

You often hear him say that batsmen must play their natural games. But I'm not sure how many of them know what their natural games are in test cricket.

Arguably in ODI and T20 cricket, they have a better handle on how they can best go about playing an innings, but in tests, batsmen are still unsure.

In this innings, Taylor demonstrated what he means by playing his natural game.

Taylor looks at his best and less likely to get out when he's accumulating at a relatively fast rate, as he did in this innings. He looks comfortable, controlled and, most of all, classy. In reality, he shouldn't have to see his score ticking over at a run a ball but if he has the intent to score singles regularly, he will reduce his horror dismissals and realise the class he has.

What Taylor also shows with innings such as these, is the ability to plan for one's deficiencies. Taylor's technique is not classical and is quite incorrect in places but he makes it work by playing appropriate shots.

Each batsman is individual but his team-mates must try to emulate his understanding.

It doesn't surprise me that Stephen Fleming's most inspirational captaincy days appeared to coincide with the times he played some of his best innings. I used some of his performances to drive my game on and, in doing so, could play my role in team performance.

If Taylor can back up what I saw on Friday evening, then everyone can breathe easy about his captaincy because team results will improve and he will feel more comfortable about making calls as captain.

- Herald on Sunday

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Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Hunter Richardson represented New Zealand in 38 Tests from 2000-2004 racking up an impressive 2,776 runs with an average of 44.7. The former Black Cap began his cricketing career as a left-arm spinner but soon realised that his talents lay with the bat. The transition from ball to bat was seamless and Richardson soon made his international debut against Zimbabwe at the age of 29. Known as a stalwart opener, Richardson’s intelligent style of hard-grind batting came at the perfect time for New Zealand cricket and provided much-needed stability for the Black Caps. Apart from being an excellent opening batsman, Mark Richardson was well-known among fans and team mates for his humorous off-pitch antics and friendly interactions with the famous Beige Brigade, with whom he formed a strong relationship. An excellent cricketer with a personable quality, Richardson once remarked that his retiring first-class average was only different to that of Sir Donald Bradman by a decimal point. Mark Richardson retired from all forms of the game in 2004 and continues to write an insightful, thought-provoking column for the New Zealand Herald.

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