High self-esteem boosts Taylor
Much has been made of James Taylor’s diminutive height, but this in no way reflects the stature of his self-belief.
The 5ft 5in batsman, nicknamed 'Titch', joined Nottinghamshire from Leicestershire earlier this month on a three-year contract, a promotion to Division One of the LV= County Championship.
He was subsequently reappointed England Lions captain for the limited-overs tour of Bangladesh next month, reflecting the confidence the England selectors have in the 21-year-old.
Taylor’s first-class and List A batting averages are a shade below 50 and the right-hander sees no reason why the former cannot return to above that mark in the top flight, having dipped this season despite him passing 1,000 first-class runs for a third straight year.
Taylor cites his averages for the Lions, for whom he has often faced stronger attacks than for Leicestershire, as evidence of this. At 57.57 in 15 first-class innings and 55.66 in eight List A knocks, he makes a convincing case.
“The higher up I’ve gone, the better I’ve played and my stats with the Lions show that,” he told ecb.co.uk. “My stats with the Lions are a lot better than in the championship.”
Taylor’s optimism can only have been boosted by his time at the England Performance Programme training camps in Pune and Mumbai this month, which Andrew Strauss, Eoin Morgan and Matt Prior were also present at.
The focus for those in India – the seam bowlers went to Potchesfroom, South Africa – was on facing spin and Taylor worked closely with national lead batting coach Graham Thorpe, one of England’s finest players of slow bowling.
Already adept against spin, Taylor enhanced that aspect of his game in India and expressed his high esteem of the EPP, having previously worked with Thorpe’s predecessor Dene Hills.
“It’s a very professional set-up and they work you very hard,” he said.
“You get contact with great coaches, the likes of Graham Thorpe at the moment and Dene Hills the other batting coach that I had with the Lions over the last couple of years. Those two guys have been great and they’ve had a lot of experience.
“Graham has had a great international career, so to pick his brain is great. He’s definitely helped me on my game, especially out in India playing spin. He was a great player of spin himself.”
Thorpe, who retired from playing in 2005, made his senior debut before Taylor was born. However, Taylor recalled the left-hander’s skill, such as his match-and-series-winning 64 not out versus Pakistan at Karachi in December 2000.
“I can remember watching him, especially take down Pakistan in that game where it got dark late,” he added. “He was a great player and had a great international career for many years.”
Taylor is yet to work so closely with Nottinghamshire director of cricket Mick Newell, although they were both on England Lions’ tour of the Caribbean at the start of this year.
Taylor is pleased at the prospect of again playing under Newell, who revealed the new signing will bat at number four for Notts in first-class and List A cricket with his Twenty20 position to be determined.
Asked about their time together last winter, Taylor replied: “We were playing a lot of matches out there so I didn’t work on too many things. I just kept it simple really with him.
“I haven’t done so much technical work with him so I don’t know what he’s like as a technical coach. I just know him as a person and a man manager, and a great guy to be around with.”
Newell believes it is a matter of time until Taylor establishes himself in one or more of England’s senior sides.
Taylor, who earned his one-day international debut against Ireland in August, is clear as to how he can make that a reality even if he does not know where he stands in the current pecking order.
“I haven’t spoken to the England selectors in depth like that, but all I know is I’ve just to keep working hard, knocking on the door and weight of runs is going to get me in that side,” he concluded.