Black Cap Ross Taylor hasn't played premier men's club cricket since 2008 but the Lower Hutt-born batsman who grew up in Wairarapa, attended Palmerston North Boys' High School and last represented Manawatu may never do that again during his stellar international career.

While that may send Central Districts scrambling for its registration records to ascertain which provincial flag he should fly, that doesn't mean Taylor doesn't do his due diligence on domestic cricket or overlook the value of the impact a veteran can make on newbies.

"You don't have to look far. You just take a look at your own career and how nervous you were at the start of your career," said the 34-year-old, considered among New Zealand's greats, as he prepares to perform for the CD Stags against the Canterbury Kings in the opening round of the four-day Plunket Shield match to start their 2018-19 domestic season at Saxton Oval, Nelson, tomorrow.

"Anything that senior players did for me to help me relax to try to get the best out of me was what I tried to do."


Former Stags Craig Spearman, Mathew Sinclair, Glen Sulzberger and Campbell Furlong were among a crop of players Taylor drew inspiration from in his formative years.

"They were senior players who were well respected and someone you always looked up to.

"In the New Zealand set up, I don't think I had that because when I started my career a lot of guys started retiring and I became a senior batter pretty earlier on.

"In the CD side you can sit back and watch other guys to learn off and not have that extra responsibility so you can effectively just go out to play."

It wasn't usual to play first-class cricket this early in the summer so he was keen to see what the wickets had to offer batsmen although mindful the bowlers had their own mindset on what profit they could purchase.

Greg Hay assumes the mantle of captaincy this summer in the red-ball format after regular skipper William Young stood down for a fresh outlook to defending champions CD.

Black Caps allrounder Doug Bracewell will be the one-day Ford Trophy skipper.

Allrounder Willem Ludick and left-arm spinner Felix Murray, 19, who made their first-class debuts together in round eight last summer, are among the rookies.


Allrounder Christian Leopard, 21, of Napier, is in line to play his first shield match in two seasons and, like Murray (New Zealand) and Ludick (South Africa) is a former ICC U19 World Cup representative.

Taylor said cricketers who started careers on a high diet of twenty20 tended to find their consistency fluctuated between different tournaments.

"You know, it almost depends on how well they start [because] they are not able to build a long innings like a one-dayer or a test match to get their eyes ticking over to get into a bit of form."

Learning one's craft in the red-ball format was relevant.

"I hope it [first-class cricket] stays but if things do change then it'll be interesting to see how the game evolves after that."

Like other summers, Taylor always enjoys returning to play for CD.

"It's a pretty inexperienced side but, once again, also exciting playing under Greg Hay who, in the warm-up games, scored some runs.

"You know, when you give someone the captaincy sometimes it brings a different side to them so, hopefully, they can bring out an even better side through Haysy," said the bloke who had unceremoniously lost his captaincy to former international Brendon McCullum under the reign of previous national coach Mike Hesson.

He stressed there were still a lot of experienced players who could step up to impart some knowledge to the rookies.

Taylor's coming off a stint for Nottinghamshire in the English county scene which posed its own share of challenges with the ball doing a lot in April and May.

"It was nice to do that because it's probably one of the last times in my career I'll be able to play red ball in England so I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot from it.

"I'm sure it wasn't always easy but I'm sure that's where you learn the most."

He was looking forward to coming up against Canterbury seamer Matt Henry, who was one of the leading wicket takers for Kent.

"He did very well. I think he enjoyed bowling with the Duke ball, which you rarely see here in New Zealand where it'll do a little bit but I don't think the Kookaburra ball will be as helpful as the Duke ball."

Stags one-day captain Doug Bracewell with Ross Taylor who will play for CD in the Plunket Shield opener at Saxton Oval, Nelson, tomorrow. Photo/file
Stags one-day captain Doug Bracewell with Ross Taylor who will play for CD in the Plunket Shield opener at Saxton Oval, Nelson, tomorrow. Photo/file

Taylor gave a vote of confidence to Saxton Oval, soaking up the beautiful weather.

With the oval hosting ODIs and T20 internationals, it shouldn't be counted out as a test venue, either, with New Zealand Cricket opting for smaller venues, he declared.

His hectic winter schedule included helping Jamaica Tallawahs make the T20 Caribbean Premier League playoffs after three months of county cricket.

In a fortnight's break at home in Hamilton with his family, Taylor has had to squeeze in a meeting with new Black Caps coach Gary Stead last week in Christchurch.

"It was good but I hardly know him that well so it was nice to get to know him better and for the other players, too," he said of Stead.

"I think he's got some new ideas so, yeah, I'm looking forward to it."

Taylor gave his constitution a tick of approval.

"There are a few more cracks and creaks when I wake up in the morning but, no, I'm feeling pretty good because when you get to this age you've got to make a few more decisions to keep yourself on the park."

He felt he still had a lot to offer New Zealand and CD cricket in the next couple of years, something he had touched on with Stead but nothing too indepth.

"I'm sure after these [meetings] he'll have a good gauge of where he sees different people — and I'm not different — to get a feel of what he wants and what he needs to implement things."

Taylor simply saw his Black Caps portfolio as a senior player scoring runs to help eke out wins and help out in any other way he could.

Young, Blair Tickner, Ajaz Patel, Tom Bruce and George Worker are on New Zealand A duties with Stags coach Heinrich Malan in the United Arab Emirates.

Former Black Caps left-arm seamer Ben Wheeler, of Marlborough, is recovering from back surgery.

CD STAGS: Greg Hay (c, Nelson) Doug Bracewell (HB), Dane Cleaver (wkt, Manawatu), Christian Leopard (HB), Ryan McCone (Horowhenua-Kāpiti), Willem Ludick (Nelson), Felix Murray (Nelson), Navin Patel (Manawatū), Seth Rance (Wairarapa), Brad Schmulian (HB), Ben Smith (Whanganui), Ross Taylor (Wairarapa/Manawatū).

Ross Taylor (right) said the CD Stags gave him the opportunity to learn from seasoned batsmen, something he didn't experience in the early days of his New Zealand career. Photo/file
Ross Taylor (right) said the CD Stags gave him the opportunity to learn from seasoned batsmen, something he didn't experience in the early days of his New Zealand career. Photo/file