By Dominic Farrell
James Taylor believes the newly-launched NatWest T20 Blast will help to produce world-class performers for England in the shortest format.
Taylor will line up for Notts Outlaws in the revamped competition following a productive winter with England Lions and, after recovering from a side strain, a half-century on his return to LV=County Championship action for his county.
And the 24-year-old is excited by the prospect of lining up alongside Notts’ England stars Stuart Broad, Michael Lumb and Alex Hales when the action gets under way - predominantly in Friday night matches designed to draw in big crowds.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “The key is playing T20 cricket. Guys have got to be playing - the only way they will get better is by playing T20 cricket.
“The more they can play, the better and I think this T20 Blast is good.
“The standard is quality. You’ve got an opportunity for international players - we’ve got Broady playing in our first game. It’s only going to make the competition stronger.
“I think it’s important for those guys, for their international T20 careers that they get the opportunity to show what they can do.
“They get more experience under their belt playing in a domestic competition to improve their game for when they step up to international level.”
Taylor acknowledges some of the new challenges for players and teams associated with the new format - one that eschews the traditional mid-summer block of Twenty20 matches in favour a season-spanning competition, with teams split into two rather than three groups - but believes the old adage of the cream rising to the top will remain.
“The best players will perform whenever they’re playing and I think that should be the case,” he said.
“It will be perfect for the crowds. Players like to get a good rhythm (playing the same format) in a block but the best players will succeed whenever they play.
“Most teams probably can’t get a specific (overseas) Twenty20 player for the whole tournament because it’s not in a block like it usually is.
“But that will give an opportunity to young guys coming through, to get more experience under their belt.”
Hales undoubtedly comes into the bracket of leading players Taylor mentions, having established himself at the top of the order for his country in T20 internationals.
The powerful opener saw his stock rise further during the recent World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, when he became the first Englishman to record an international format ton with a sensational match-winning knock against eventual winners Sri Lanka.
Asked whether his colleague had recovered from such exploits, Taylor joked: “Just about, I think he’s still in the clouds a bit.”
The batsman added: “He’s a proven international over a number of games so hopefully he can continue to perform for Notts.
“He’s got more experience under his belt now, which will definitely help, and he’s learning as a cricketer full stop.
"Hopefully he can bring that form from over in Bangladesh to the T20 Blast.”
Taylor was speaking ahead of the start of the NatWest T20 Blast season. Blast off is Friday 16 May. Tickets can be purchased from www.ecb.co.uk/natwestt20blast