When Martin Crowe started mentoring Ross Taylor, one of the first goals he set for his protege was to pass his total for test runs.

That could happen as early as Saturday night as Taylor sits poised on 5405 runs, 39 shy of Crowe's 5444. Asked what Crowe, who died of double-hit lymphoma aged just 53 this year, would say to him when he passed his total, Taylor simply said: "Keep going."

Taylor scored a measured 173 not out in the first test victory against Zimbabwe this week, his technique and temperament too good for an inexperienced and punchless local attack. That score took him past John Wright's aggregate into fourth on New Zealand's all-time list.

"It's always nice to pass someone you know," Taylor said, speaking from Bulawayo. "Wrighty was my former coach and I had a lot to do with him so it's nice to beat him but a bit embarrassing at the same time."

Advertisement

Only Crowe, Brendon McCullum (6453) and Stephen Fleming (7172) sit above him... for now. Kane Williamson, who scored 91 in the first test, is the closest active player to Taylor with 4128.

In scoring his 14th test century, he remains just three back from Crowe's NZ-record 17. That record is one for later, for now it's the aggregate in the way.

"When I first met Martin in a mentor capacity, that was one of the goals that he set for me, to beat his runs. Obviously it's a bit sad for him not to be here to see me pass it but he'd be very proud.

"He'd say, 'Keep going, don't stop there'."

Taylor was unaware of the impending milestones until tea on the third day of the first test, when he was talking about what approach they should take in the final session as they looked to set up a crushing win. Hesson passed on his congratulations for passing Wright.

"I'd forgotten all about it to be fair," said Taylor, who had just finished a successful stint with county side Sussex. "It was nice of Hess to come and say that and tell me I wasn't far away from Hogan either.

"He was actually surprised," Taylor joked.

Taylor has always been one of New Zealand's most outrageously talented cricketers but Crowe, one of the game's great stylists, helped strip back some of Taylor's adventure in order to turn him into a more consistent run machine.

Taylor said Crowe described him as "nothing but a dirty slogger" the first time he saw him play for Central Districts.

At Crowe's funeral, Taylor paid tribute to Crowe's influence.

"Some of my best innings came about because of his advice the night before. I wouldn't be the player I was without his influence and guidance."

One of his last piece's of inspiration was a one-and-a-half page letter Taylor received the night before he embarked on his epic 290 at Perth last year, the highest score by an overseas player in a test on Australian soil.

New Zealand's top 10 test run-scorers

Stephen Fleming 7172
Brendon McCullum 6453
Martin Crowe 5444
Ross Taylor 5405
John Wright 5334
Nathan Astle 4702
Daniel Vettori 4523
Kane Williamson 4128
Bevan Congdon 3448
John R Reid 3428