Published on March 7th, 2018 | by Sakshi Gupta0
Vintage Ross Taylor
The bowlers around the world should be careful while bowling to Ross Taylor on his birthday. He is one hell of a batsman on his birthday.
If it rained in Dunedin today, Ross Taylor will happily assume his mentor Late Martin Crowe was extremely proud of him today and he shed happy tears as a gesture.
“If Taylor sees New Zealand through, he shouldn’t walk off the field, they (teammates) should come and take him off the park,” Ian Smith said in the commentary box as Taylor, literally on one leg, took away the match from England at the University Oval Stadium on Wednesday.
Limping Taylor produced the greatest-ever knock of his career to register one of the best chases seen in the history of one-day cricket. On his birthday eve, Taylor remained unbeaten on 181 off 147 balls and enforced a series decider as New Zealand won the second ODI by five wickets. What made his knock remarkable is that the latter part of his runs came post his injury. Just after he reached the triple figures, Taylor suffered an injury when he dived to complete two runs.
— Brendon McCullum (@Bazmccullum) March 7, 2018
Nobody in the New Zealand side better than Taylor knew what it is like being in the shadow of your teammates. Ever since Taylor made his international debut in 2006, he has never been considered as the team’s No. 1 batsman. First Brendon McCullum and then Kane Williamson, there has always been a player who was opted ahead of him. More than ups, Taylor has suffered downs during his career but what has kept him apart is the fact that every single time, the Samoan always found his way back to the top. With the character, resistance and experience he has displayed today in a high-pressurised must-win situation, Taylor certainly has shown that he was, is and will always remain an integral part of the team.
When New Zealand went two down for just two runs, I can be more than sure that they would have been only a handful of people who would have believed in Taylor that he could pull the BlackCaps out from the grave situation. He lived up to that faith; when the team needed someone to stand up, it was Taylor!
After winning the opening ODI of the five-match series, New Zealand lost the next two. The Dunedin ODI was a must-win for the hosts to keep the series alive. Centuries from Janny Bairstow and Joe Root ensured England had a huge total of 335 on the board. That was followed by excellent opening bowling from Mark Wood and Chris Woakes who removed the New Zealand openers cheaply for a duck. With just two runs on the board, Taylor joined his skipper Williamson in the middle.
The chase took a positive turn starting from the third-wicket stand of Williamson and Taylor. The two together piled up 84 runs and it was Taylor who took the charge this time. He contributed 40 off 38 in the partnership, while the captain scored run-a-ball 43. Williamson fell to Ben Stokes, he was caught behind while pulling a shot. However, replays showed he had not touched the ball but Colin Munro had wasted a review earlier which meant Williamson had to walk back with 48-ball 45.
At 86 for 3, England would have thought that their bowlers certainly were capable of winning the match from there. But, they were awaited of something very special from Taylor and his support cast, Tom Latham. The duo was well in-synced with each other by now, having recorded some match-winning partnerships recently. Latham walked in when the asking rate shot up to almost nine but he played the second fiddle to Taylor. Williamson and Taylor are the second most successful pair in ODIs since 2014, making 2,637 runs at with 11-century stands and as 10 fifty partnerships.
Remember Taylor’s 124-ball 131 against Pakistan during the 2011 World Cup at Pallekele? It was Taylor’s birthday.
Seven years later, this time on his birthday eve, Taylor surpassed his previous best to record a new highest score for himself. He took 98 balls to reach his 19th ODI century soon to get injured. The physio came down on the field a few times but Taylor had decided to keep going. Running for twos was a difficult task provided he wanted to be able to play. So, he opted to launch. His school hockey like always helped him in his favourite slog sweep shots, then the full swing of the arms over long-on smashed the ball further and further.
As the game reached the end, it was evident that Taylor’s body was slowly giving up. He even down a couple of times but there was no way Taylor was going to give up. As his legs began to cry, his hands got more intense. In total, Taylor struck six sixes and 17 boundaries. For the New Zealanders in the stadium, the sight was a treat to watch – Vintage Taylor. There never was denying that the middle-order batsman was talented but he suffered major consistency issues. Around 15 months ago, speculations had begun that maybe, Taylor was nearing his end in cricket.
@RossLTaylor oh my word. One of the best. Hell of a knock and a tremendous win. Get the other eye checked mate just in case!!! Congratulations.
— Stephen Fleming (@SPFleming7) March 7, 2018
Towards the end of 2016, Taylor underwent an eye operation and resumed international cricket in January, 2017. Ever since then, New Zealand have witnessed a different Taylor, they now have the batsman Taylor, they had always wanted. Post surgery, Taylor now has scored 1,441 runs, inclusive of four hundreds and nine fifties. Alone in 2018, from eight ODIs, he has scored 473 runs, including two centuries at an average of 80-plus. At 33 years and 364 days, Taylor has revived his career and has kick-started his second innings with flying colours. It is also for the first time when Taylor has been impressive consistency-wise too. With the 2019 World Cup nearing, this form of Taylor could be the best thing for the BlackCaps.