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Cricket: Black Caps batting order gets strategic juggling

Move gives swashbucklers more licence, with Ross Taylor well placed to play the chameleon.

A change is as good as a holiday sounds like dubious advice, but expect it to hold merit for Ross Taylor as he moves to No 5 in New Zealand's T20 batting order.

Taylor had long been established as the country's No 4 in all formats, but the onset of the World T20 in India during March has brought a refreshed mindset.

The 31-year-old's experience, and the guarantee of a starting spot, means he is ideally suited to play the chameleon.

If New Zealand need to up the pace, Taylor can accelerate.

Few who observed his 131 against Pakistan in Pallekele at the 2011 World Cup will forget him scoring the final 55 runs in 13 balls.

His adversaries' deliveries took off like carrier pigeons.

Shoaib Akhtar's ninth over went for 28 runs; Abdul Razzaq's fourth went for 30.

In Hollywood parlance, Taylor was once expected to play an Arnold Schwarzenegger-like role every time, now he has the freedom to go a touch more Robert de Niro and add subtlety to his game.

The decision gives Colin Munro and Corey Anderson more licence to swashbuckle as New Zealand pre-empt Brendon McCullum's retirement.

The methodology also enables New Zealand to split their most reliable batsmen in all formats - Kane Williamson and Taylor - as an innings insurance policy.

The plan worked well in the summer's first T20I against Sri Lanka at Mt Maunganui where Taylor cobbled 22 from nine balls after entering in the 17th over. He hasn't had another opportunity.

"A bit has been made of the move," Taylor said.

"But I often enjoyed that role in the IPL [Indian Premier League] and Kane and Hess [coach Mike Hesson] wanted me to bat there.

"On one hand it's totally different [at international level] but on the other I've done it before. It could provide an important role in the World Cup, especially with spinners. Hopefully my experience can come to the fore.

"I think you're more relaxed, you don't have to put your pads on straight away. I didn't have pads on at all in my last couple of games. It hasn't been a bad thing."

Taylor said the fact so many New Zealanders, eight in the current squad of 13, had IPL experience would help when India hosts the World T20.

"A lot of other top players are in a similar boat, but I think Colin [Munro] getting experience there last year [as injury cover with the Mumbai Indians], Mitch [McClenaghan at Mumbai] and Milney [Adam Milne at Bangalore] is valuable. They weren't playing a lot of games, but just rubbing shoulders can help.

"Going to grounds [at international tournaments] can often be foreign, but this time it's not. We will have a lot of extra information compared to the past."

Taylor also advocated several New Zealanders signing England county deals in a rare international off season from April to July.

"It has helped fast-track a lot of our players and made us a good team over the last while with the depth we continue to build.

Taylor opted not to put his name forward for the IPL, where there were no guarantees. Instead he chose to realise a long coveted dream by signing a contract with Sussex.

"My daughter Mackenzie will be five in September so it's one of the last times I can play county cricket for an extended period. It won't be as easy to pick up and leave when she starts school.

"[County cricket's] something I always wanted to do as a kid, and one of the first things I said when I went to the academy."

- NZ Herald

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