Taylor terrorises Hampshire
James Taylor delivered a timely reminder of his vast quality with a List A-best 115 not out that helped Nottinghamshire inflict a first Clydesdale Bank 40 Group B defeat of the season on Hampshire.
With Kevin Pietersen today announcing his retirement from international limited-overs cricket, a place is seemingly available in England’s line-up.
Taylor did his chances no harm as, in front of the Sky cameras, he produced a tour de force to take Nottinghamshire to 277 for four at the Ageas Bowl.
Samit Patel, who hit 66 in Notts’ innings, then claimed 3-47, with Hampshire falling to a 12-run loss despite half-centuries from Jimmy Adams, Michael Carberry and Sean Ervine.
The hosts got off to the perfect start as Kabir Ali trapped Michael Lumb - playing against his former side - plumb in front, after which Riki Wessels clipped Dimitri Mascarenhas to midwicket for 16.
Alex Hales played some fine shots in compiling a 41-ball 33 but was bowled attempting to slog-sweep left-arm spinner Liam Dawson.
Yet that merely heralded the arrival of Taylor, who initially prospered from incredible quickness between the wickets as Patel enjoyed fluency.
Playing particularly impressively through cover off the spin, the latter progressed to his fifty with an array of fine shots - only to be bowled trying to cut Dawson.
Patel was indeed impressive, yet his efforts paled in comparison to Taylor’s.
Having progressed patiently, he began to open his shoulders after Patel’s departure and subsequently produced a breathtaking array of strokes.
Hitting with a power that belied his size, the diminutive batsman first prospered by making room and striking through the off side; Danny Briggs was struck for two glorious sixes over long-off at the start of the batting powerplay.
As if wanting to demonstrate his ability all around the wicket, Taylor switched his attack to leg after moving past 50 in the 35th over.
At that stage, a century seemed impossible but the batsman’s aforementioned change of tack produced devastating results, illustrated by him hitting three maximums in the penultimate over, the last of which brought up three figures.
Taylor was then dropped by Carberry, but the damage was already done; he finished unbeaten following a 77-ball stay, during which he hit seven sixes and as many fours.
Adam Voges compiled 32 not out having put on 142 in 13.2 overs with the former Leicestershire man.
In reply, Adams and Carberry got Hampshire off to a flying start as boundaries flowed in a first 10 overs that yielded 88 runs.
The former showed his intent by slog-sweeping Patel for six, yet - after Hampshire’s skipper reached his half-century - the left-arm spinner gained revenge.
An arm ball found the leading edge and man-of-the-moment Taylor took a fine catch diving forward.
The hosts’ efforts were dented as James Vince hit to cover off Patel, who then trapped Simon Katich, on the back foot, in front - albeit with replays showing he was hit outside the line of off stump.
That meant Carberry, having struck 60, 76 and 103 not out in Hampshire's three Clydesdale Bank 40 games this season, seemingly held the key.
However, soon after moving past 50, he was caught by Darren Pattinson attempting to scoop Steven Mullaney over fine-leg.
Ervine looked shaky early on, only to then impress when settled, hitting boundaries in a seemingly effortless fashion.
After Dawson was run out for 18, the left-hander brought up his fifty as he and Mascarenhas looked to drag Hampshire to victory.
But the return of Paul Franks brought the wicket of Ervine, who clipped straight to short fine-leg on 68.
Lusty blows from Mascarenhas set up a nervy finish, but Hampshire were unable to take the required 15 off the final over.
That meant Nottinghamshire, having lost their opening game against Scotland, got off the mark in this year’s CB40.