Cricket: Taylor targets test success

By Ryan Moran

  • James Taylor hopes to achieve individual test glory after disappointing in 2012.
  • Patel included in test squad after Ansari is ruled out through injury.
  • Two day tour match against Pakistan A starts the UAE tour on 5th

Sharjah, UAE – Impressive scores both at first class and ODI level have warranted a second chance for batsman James Taylor after failing to impress on the test circuit in 2012.Samit Patel also makes a return after three years after Zafar Ansari was ruled out because of a thumb injury.

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After claiming the tiny treasure that is the urn in a 3-2 victory over our greatest rivals, an ODI series victory didn’t leave too sour a taste in the England camp. After a lack of preparation in terms of time, this winter gives head coach Trevor Bayliss a chance to make his mark on the squad and try fringe players after a dismal World Cup and international series’ being lost one after another under Peter Moores.

One decision was to recall Taylor back to the test squad, with the batsman’s last appearance coming against South Africa in 2012 with a top score of 34 and an average of 16 over three innings. However, three years on and the Nottinghamshire player stands in good stead for a place in the first test against Pakistan on 13th October. This summer Taylor averaged 49.55 for Notts, along with an impressive 291 against Sussex to stake his claim. In addition to this, the England batsman shone on the one day circuit, providing a mainstay and a catalyst for the home nation to succeed alongside Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan with an average of 49.2 with a top score of 101. This was followed up by a score of 164 against Warwickshire two days after the conclusion of the one day series with Australia.

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After Ansari’s call up to both the senior and lions, Patel thought his chances of playing for his country again were over. After not getting picked to play against Sri Lanka, the all-rounder had all but closed the book on international cricket. Ansari’s dislocated thumb once again opened the door for the 30 year old. The Nottinghamshire player’s international career spanned between August 2008 and February 2013, playing 36 ODIs, 18 Twenty20 internationals and five test matches. Although the spinner is behind the likes of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, his place on the trip is enough to make him happy.

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The Nottinghamshire contingent continues with the surprise inclusion of Alex Hales to the test squad. A player who in the one day series with the Green Caps only averaged 10.6 with a top score of 22 and a Twenty20 score of 3 at Cardiff. However on the County circuit, the batsman impressed with 886 runs at 52.11 with a score of 236 against eventual league winners Yorkshire and a 189 against Warwickshire.

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Steven Finn also made the 16 man squad after an impressive bowling display in the third ashes test, taking eight wickets for 117 from 31 overs, earning a recall in the fifth test taking a further three wickets. The first two tests with Pakistan A look to be the games for the fringe players like the Middlesex bowler to give Bayliss a selection Dilemma for the test series with Pakistan.

Wicketkeepers Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler will compete for the position behind the stumps. Bairstow has been known to fill a batting spot if selected alongside Buttler. Yorkshire keeper Bairstow will compete not only with his fellow wicketkeeper but also Taylor in the batting department. In the domestic league, the wicketkeeper tops the batting averages with 92.33 in 15 innings with a high score of 219 and a run total of 1108. Taylor sits ninth with an average of 49.55 in 21 innings with a high score of 291 and a run total of 991. Head coach Bayliss may use the tour matches to test both batsmen and wicketkeepers ready for Pakistan on the 13th.

Ben Stokes stole the headlines in the ODI series as Joe Root was rested but both players will be hard to take out of the top XI based on their summer form. Questions were asked over Ian Bell’s selection in the final ashes matches and pressure will mount as young blood are tested over the series and results will be key for all in contention. The pace attack remains relatively the same as Mark Wood, James Anderson and Stuart Broad are joined by Liam Plunkett while skipper Alastair Cook remains as captain.

Much has been said about the Pakistan tour in terms of what to expect. The spotlight will be on England’s spinners as conditions in the Middle East suit spin bowling while this will test the top order batsman after mainly seamers being used by opposition over the summer. Having been beaten 3-0 in their last tour of the UAE against Pakistan, Bayliss’ squad have a point to prove, with the opposition without Saeed Ajmal who 24 wickets in that series.

The England players have a few weeks rest before their tour of Pakistan commencing against the National side’s A team in Sharjah on 5th October.

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