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Taylor made for showdown

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James Taylor

James Taylor © Getty Images

England Under-19 opener James Taylor is thrilled at the prospect of playing Australia in Saturday’s World Cup play-off final at the Royal Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur.

Coach Andy Pick’s side discovered their final opponents on Thursday following the abandonment of the Aussies’ semi-final against Bangladesh - meaning Australia progressed due to their superior tournament run rate.

The 18-year-old Leicestershire player has been England’s most consistent batsman during the competition, making starts in every match and averaging over 63.

Taylor recognises Australia will pose a stern test but hopes England can replicate their performance in beating Sri Lanka on Wednesday, having lost to their previous Test-playing opponents.

He told ecb.co.uk: “It should be great to play Australia because they’re a class team. It will be a good experience to play against someone of their ability. Hopefully we can get another win under our belts against a Test playing nation.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to play them but again that should be a good opportunity to test our ability against such a good team.

“Hopefully we will have a look at some footage on Friday night before the game - have a look at their strengths and weaknesses and discuss how we’re going to play.”

Andy Pick

England coach Andy Pick has monitored Taylor's progress

Taylor believes the play-off semi-final win over the Sri Lankans - by eight runs under the Duckworth-Lewis method - provided a crucial boost to spirit within the squad.

England went into the game on the back of disappointing defeats to Bangladesh in the Group D decider and India in the Super League quarter-final.

“It was important to get team morale up and confidence back in the side. We played really well and everything went to plan. We played positively and it was good to restore some confidence,” Taylor added.

“If everything goes according to plan (against Australia) we should play well and if we stick to our game plan and be positive - like we were against Sri Lanka - it should all go well.”

Taylor has been a linchpin for England at the top of the order. He started the tournament with scores of 52 and 43 in the 10-wicket wins over Ireland and Bermuda and followed this with 24 and 41 in the defeats to Bangladesh and India.

Most recently he made 30 against Sri Lanka, sharing a first-wicket partnership of 75, to help England reach 204 for three before rain ended proceedings.

James Harris

Glamorgan's James Harris, like Taylor, is in his final year of school © Getty Images

“I’ve been quite happy to be fair. I’ve just tried to be positive - as positive as I can at the top of the order - which has come off and we’ve had some good starts so far in the World Cup.

“Hopefully that will continue against the Australians. As a unit it’s been good and hopefully we can take our form into the next game.”

Taylor is one of five players in the squad in their last year of school and has had to balance cricket with studying since the tour started in Sri Lanka in January.

Along with the other four - James Harris, Dan Redfern, Sam Northeast and James Goodman - the Shrewsbury School pupil has been taking time out to prepare for his A-Level exams this summer.

“It’s been a test. I’ve tried to do as much work as I could since I’ve been out here. We’ve had some set sessions where we’ve done an hour of work.

“It’s been hard juggling cricket and work but it’s something I’ve had to do to try and stay on top of work as much as possible being in my A-Level year. It’s been a challenge but it’s been good and I’ve just had to work hard.”

There have also been cricketing lessons to learn during the tour and Taylor recognises the benefit of these.

“It’s been a great experience. We’ve leant from every game that we’ve played in testing conditions against different bowlers.

“It’s only going to benefit us in the long run, especially playing out in the sub-continent against spin.”