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Cricket: Batsman Ross Taylor's time may be at end

Ross Taylor has not commented on the decision. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Ross Taylor has not commented on the decision. Photo / Brett Phibbs

What if New Zealand Cricket lost Ross Taylor's services sooner rather than later?

It's a hypothetical question at this stage, but one worth contemplating as the former Black Caps captain prepares to return for the tests against Bangladesh.

Taylor has not commented on the decision by selectors Mike Hesson and Gavin Larsen to drop him for the T20 component of the series, despite the successful removal of a pterygium growth from his left eye.

The closest he came to addressing the issue was after scoring 82 off 41 balls in his return for Central Districts against Auckland on December 29 at New Plymouth.

"It's a funny one, my last innings [against Pakistan at Hamilton] was a hundred, then I had the operation. To get an '80' and contribute to a win was satisfying."

Taylor underlined that with 80 off 50 balls against Canterbury on December 31, but was still not recalled to the Black Caps when Martin Guptill pulled a hamstring in the final one-day international against Bangladesh on the same day.

Neil Broom, with more T20 opening experience, was picked. When Broom broke a finger fielding in the opening match, George Worker was called up. Then New Zealand opted to use Luke Ronchi as an opener instead of Worker. When Ronchi pulled a groin muscle, Jimmy Neesham donned the pads first for the final match.

Taylor could have re-joined the middle order, but was overlooked twice. The issue was blurred because Taylor was rested from Central Districts' final two Super Smash matches on January 3 and 7 as a precaution over a "minor side strain".

Regardless, there was still no Taylor comment.

His re-entry into the Black Caps atmosphere is an important juncture in the man-management skills of coach Hesson, manager Mike Sandle and captain Kane Williamson to ensure one of New Zealand's cricketing greats feels welcome.

Likewise, Taylor must be prepared to engage, regardless of whether any ill-feeling exists over his T20 omission.

Others stepped up in the middle order against Bangladesh, but Taylor's absence during December's 3-0 Chappell-Hadlee Trophy rout was palpable. This summer will be judged on the upcoming ODIs against Australia and a three-format series against South Africa, rather than the Bangladesh tour. Taylor's experience appears vital.

Most players at elite level require a degree of bespoke treatment to draw out their best contribution. Taylor has always been driven by achieving individual numbers. Two of New Zealand's biggest are looming: the most test centuries (Taylor has 16; his late mentor Martin Crowe made 17) and the most test runs (Taylor has 5838; Stephen Fleming made 7172). Taylor could reach the centuries mark this summer and the runs mark the following season.

Beyond that, what other individual accomplishments would drive him?

He is approaching his 33rd birthday and the touring lifestyle might hold less appeal in comparison to spending time with wife Victoria, five-year-old daughter Mackenzie and two-year-old son Jonty.

Speaking to the Herald at Indore on the Indian tour in October, Taylor calculated by tour's end he would have slept 12 nights in his own bed in eight months.

"I don't know how long that [lifestyle] is sustainable," he said. "Fortunately my family came to England [when he starred for Sussex in the T20s last year]. But when I was home for a week they were all sick."

He also missed Mackenzie's first day at school.

"It becomes tougher as they understand more about what Dad does, but this is the job I always wanted to do. When you speak to past players, they say you're a long time retired."

Hopefully there will be no opportunity cost for fans.

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson

- NZ Herald

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