By Richard Latham
Jack Taylor must wish Gloucestershire played every County Championship game at Cheltenham. Two years ago the 25-year-old all-rounder marked the annual Festival with what remains his career-best score of 156 against Northamptonshire.
And this time around Taylor showed his affection for the picturesque College Ground by taking 143 off the Worcestershire attack, rescuing his side from a sizeable first innings hole at 129-5 when he walked out at No.7.
Sadly, an absorbing contest was condemned to finish as a draw by the heavy rain that allowed only 15.3 overs to be bowled on day three.
But Gloucestershire ended up in the ascendancy, having beaten Glamorgan inside two days in their other Festival Championship match.
“All the players enjoy Cheltenham each year,” said Taylor. “I love batting here and the Festival has been very good to me.
“The innings against Northants was my best in terms of runs scored, but this one gave me as much pleasure as any of my five first-class hundreds because we were in a sticky situation when I went in.
“The pitch did a bit for the seamers, so it wasn’t easy. There was nip and extra bounce now and then.”
Taylor’s 170-ball innings, including 20 fours and a six, was more evidence to support the view that he can be much more than a renowned big-hitter in one-day games.
“I want to contribute with both bat and ball in four-day cricket,” he said. “My batting has come on and I am starting to make more regular contributions.
“The belief is there that I can make more and bigger hundreds to ensure a decent average in the Championship.”
That will delight Gloucestershire skipper Phil Mustard, who sees Taylor as a key figure in his plans to make the county genuine candidates for promotion over the next couple of years.
Mustard said: “Jack Taylor is really growing in his role as a No.7 and is starting to look like a proper batsman.
“Not so long ago he was going in and trying to swing at every ball. Now he has worked out his natural game and is beginning to dominate teams without taking as many risks.”
Mustard took on the captaincy when Gareth Roderick was ruled out by early season illness and is now expected to stay in charge for at least the remainder of this season.
Result: Gloucestershire (383 & 286-4d) drew with Worcestershire (300-9d and 155-5)