Ross Taylor: The unsung hero of New Zealand cricket
When we talk of the greatest batsmen of the last decade, this man’s name might not figure in the list at all. We might talk about the mastery of Virat Kohli, the flamboyance of Rohit Sharma or the resilience of Steve Smith, but rarely of the workmanlike batting of Ross Taylor.
But Taylor deserves more. He has silently been the pillar of his side’s batting lineup for more than a decade now, and his importance to New Zealand cricket cannot be overstated.
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Taylor has played for almost a decade and a half for the Kiwis, and is the highest run scorer for the Black Caps in both Tests and ODIs. The veteran averages close to 50 in ODI cricket after 229 matches, and also has a healthy average of 45.70 in white flannel.
In the first ODI against India on 5 February, Taylor anchored the New Zealand run chase to perfection, mixing caution and aggression to get his side over the line. His magical 109*, coming off just 84 balls, acted as the catalyst as the Black Caps chased down the mammoth target of 348 runs to go 1-0 up in the three-match ODI series.
Taylor has always been in the background throughout his career. When he made his debut way back in the year 2006, the team was filled with stars like Stephen Fleming and Nathan Astle. And after their retirements, Taylor was again overshadowed by the belligerent presence of Brendon McCullum.
But over the course of the last decade and a half, Taylor has transformed into one of the most vital cogs of the Kiwi batting lineup. Today, he stands as the most distinguished New Zealand batsman in history, and he plays like it.
Taylor is a batsman who can be extremely dangerous once he gets his eye in. His ability to strike the ball as clean as a whistle coupled with his tremendous hand-eye co-ordination make him a lethal batsman to bowl to, especially in the death overs.
His longevity has been very impressive too. The Kiwi stalwart is 35 years old now, but he's still playing as well as ever and still says that retirement has not crossed his mind yet.
In fact, when quizzed about when he was likely to walk away from the game, this is what Taylor had to say:
"You've got to be smarter in the way you go about your training. You've just got to be a lot more disciplined, and you've got to enjoy yourself as well. You've always got to think about retirement after cricket, and trying to sort yourself out there. You've still got to earn the right to play for the team and be good enough, but as I stand now, I'm still enjoying my cricket and hopefully I've still got a couple of years left in me."
With the kind of experience and utility that Taylor brings to the table, the legendary Kiwi still has a few more years of quality cricket left in him. But maybe it is time for him to come out of the shadows and earn the respect of the fans for being the unshakable backbone of the New Zealand batting lineup.Published 05 Feb 2020, 21:29 IST