Having raised his third century in successive tests against the West Indies the time is right to raise the question: where should Ross Taylor sit among New Zealand's finest test batsmen?

Right up with the best, quite clearly.

Taylor followed 217 not out and 16 not out at Dunedin, and 129 at Wellington in the first two tests by reaching his century with a handsome drive to the cover boundary off new ball bowler Tino Best.

It had taken him 239 balls and took four and three-quarter hours at Seddon Park.


Taylor joins Mark Burgess as the only New Zealander to have scored hundreds in three straight tests. Burgess' numbers were unusual. His tons were spread over three years, against Pakistan in Dhaka in 1969, against England at Eden Park in 1971 and against the West Indies in Jamaica in 1972.

Those were the days of far fewer tests for New Zealand. It is a different story now.

Only two players, Martin Crowe, who is Taylor's mentor, and John Wright have scored more centuries than the 11 of the Central Districts player -- with 17 and 12 respectively.

Taylor lost the New Zealand captaincy at the end of last year in highly contentious circumstances. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that decision, and more particularly the way it was handled by New Zealand Cricket, it hasn't hurt his batting.

When Taylor raised his century today, he had scored 833 runs this calendar year in his 10th test. Only John R. Reid, the celebrated allrounder and captain of the 1950s and 1960s has scored more.

Reid, in 13 tests in 1965, hit 871 runs at 36.29; Taylor's average when he got his hundred was 76.

Crowe is regarded as New Zealand's finest batsman. There are others, notably the opener Glenn Turner, who hit a century of first-class hundreds, and the lefthander Bert Sutcliffe, who are rated not far behind.

But Taylor's numbers insist he must now be regarded in the highest echelon.

His average, among all New Zealand batsmen who played a minimum of 30 test innings tops the list, having overtaken John F Reid in the second test at Wellington.

New Zealand's leading test centurymakers:

17: Martin Crowe (77 tests)
12: John Wright (82)
11: Nathan Astle (81), Ross Taylor (in 53rd test)
9: Stephen Fleming (111)
7: Glenn Turner (41), Andrew Jones (39), Bevan Congdon (61), Brendon McCullum (in 82nd)