By Matt Wright
FEW can present quite such a compelling case for inclusion in Peter Moores’ new-look England fold than James Taylor and the Nottinghamshire star insists he merits a second chance.
Taylor’s Test debut came two years ago against South Africa, the diminutive batsman looking far from out of his depth at the highest level in his two Tests before being jettisoned.
Since then Taylor, who has skippered the England Lions on multiple occasions, has continued to pile on the runs at first-class level, including a century against Australia for Sussex last summer that appeared to place him at the front of the queue.
But a place on the disastrous Ashes tour was not forthcoming, Taylor instead spending his winter piling on the runs in club cricket in Australia before then hitting a career best 242 not out with the Lions in Sri Lanka.
Still only 24, Taylor has already played more than 100 first-class matches all over the world, making runs wherever he goes. But while Geoffrey Boycott called him “too small” on Test Match Special last summer, the 5ft 5in batsman is adamant he deserves to get his shot.
“I’ve been frustrated because I feel I’ve got a decent record behind me,” said Taylor, who averages 48 in first-class cricket and an impressive 50.76 in List A.
“Obviously there is something I haven’t done quite right. Ultimately I’ve got to score more runs and I’ve got to knock on that door until they can’t turn me down.
“I think there’s a fresh start for a few people and, hopefully, I’m one of them if I’m given an opportunity and extended run.”
In his two Tests against South Africa in 2012 Taylor most impressed in compiling 34 at Headingley while Kevin Pietersen went on a rampage at the other end. And while at Lord’s in the third Test Taylor did not replicate that form, according to the man himself, there is plenty more left for England fans to see.
“I’ve said it before that it ended all too briefly when I did make my step up so hopefully if I do get my opportunity I’ll get a bit longer than last time,” he added.
“If people have judged me after two innings and then a run-out then I think that’s a bit too quick in Test match cricket because I felt fine at the crease against the best bowling attack in the world.
“I came in at the middle of the series as well. It was two years ago and I’m a much better player now with however many games. I feel a lot more comfortable now with what I know.”
With Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow missing the start of the County Championship season with finger injuries and their fellow Yorkshire teammate Gary Ballance in fine form, now is the time for Taylor to press his claims.
Scores of 62 and 33 in Notts’ season curtain-raiser were a warning shot but the former Leicestershire man is confident of more to come.
And while others may have been tarred by their involvement with England’s disastrous winter Down Under, Taylor insists the messages from the powers that be are certainly positive ones.
“I had a great chat with Andy Flower who came and saw me a couple of weeks ago at Trent Bridge for over an hour,” added Taylor.
“I had couple of good chats with James Whitaker after the England Lions series in Sri Lanka and at the start of the season. So I’m happy about where I sit.
“There’s healthy competition and it makes the standard of county cricket even better as well because everyone is driving for those Test spots.
“I think the standard at the moment of English cricket is quality when you look at the international players playing in the league.
“Everyone is striving for those Test spots – fingers crossed it will be me but there are plenty of other quality players around the squad so it will be up to me to take my chance by scoring runs.
“Hopefully the runs that I’ve scored in the last three years won’t be forgotten as well but it’s up to me to score runs this season.”