Friday, 1 June 2012

James Taylor stakes his claim for Pietersen's place.

The current England selectors seldom pick a player on one innings, like they would have done regularly in the 80s and 90s, so James Taylor's 115 from 77 today wouldn't have secured Pietersen's place in the limited overs teams, but it does put him in contention.

He started stodgily, making 25 off 45 balls, haring between the wickets to pick up singles and twos to just tread water as far as a one day innings is concerned. Then he picked up a length ball from Sean Ervine and deposited it over mid-wicket for six.

That was followed by three more boundaries in the next over, then ten more spread over the last seven overs, along with some more quick running between the wickets. He hit some magnificent shots among the lot: a precise drive timed over long off for six; a full toss flicked over long leg for six, a dilscoop/ramp over fine leg for four. Balls pitched outside leg and going down went over extra cover, wide of off stump balls went over mid-wicket. Fourteen boundaries in all.

Tonight was the first time I'd ever seen Taylor bat for an extended period, having seen him get out cheaply twice before. It wasn't the player you'd see in the championship, but it shows why he averages nearly 50 in one day cricket. He was inventive and clever, used his quick hands and strong wrists to manoeuvre the ball around for singles and flick the ball over the ropes for six. Not many players can hit sixes that look that effortless.

It's unlikely that he'll be the man to take over from Pietersen in either limited overs team - although he has already made his ODI debut, against Ireland last year. Ultimately the selectors seem to have their eye on other players, Jonny Bairstow could slot back in after taking over the Test No.6 spot, and Ravi Bopara is also a contender, along with Alex Hales who could fill Pietersens's opening role in both limited overs formats.

The selectors shouldn't rule out Taylor for the openers slot though, he's a top order player, and has the sort of mental resilience to be an opener, but also the all round game to do it. He reminds you of so many players, Chanderpaul like physique and wrists; the acceleration and helicopter shot of Dhoni today; Graham Thorpe's ability to always find a single. He's not any of those players, he's his own man though, and he's surely going to get an England place within the next couple of years.   

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