Taylor takes pleasure from timely ton
James Taylor was pleased to enhance England Lions’ hopes of victory - and his own international aspirations - on day two of the tour match against West Indies at Wantage Road.
The Lions captain, long since tipped for a prosperous career at the highest level, has struggled to find his best form since moving to Nottinghamshire over the winter.
However, in compiling 118 out of the Lions’ 341 all out today, Taylor delivered a timely reminder of his many qualities and also helped his team into a position of dominance.
West Indies, trailing by 194 on first innings, closed on 28 for three in their second innings to leave Taylor plenty of reason for satisfaction.
“I’m delighted to get a hundred for the Lions, and I hope I can kick on from here,” he said.
“I’m really pleased. It’s about time, to be fair - it’s been a tough season so far. I’ve scored some gritty runs, and it was ideal to score some at the right time.
“I dug in, and I think we put on 100 for the last two wickets - which has put us in a really strong position for the rest of the game.”
Taylor and Jonny Bairstow’s century stand for the sixth wicket took place in front of the Test selectors, and a clutch of England and Wales Cricket Board top brass, in attendance at this match.
Taylor was not about to be put off by whose eyes were watching his progress, but was happy to have put on a show for them.
“That was the plan,” he said. “What an opportunity, to play for the Lions, and show the selectors what we can do - against Test opposition. I’m glad I put my hand up today.”
Taylor knew ECB chairman Giles Clarke, chief executive David Collier and team director Andy Flower were among the spectators.
“We saw them all around at certain points of the day,” he said.
“But you don’t really think about the selectors when you’re batting. You just think about the next ball, and trying to play it.
“It’s still always nice to score runs in front of them and show what I can do - especially against a Test bowling attack.”
The Windies fast bowlers showed their aggravation more than once while Taylor was completing his hundred and Jade Dernbach was carving agricultural boundaries in a 10th-wicket stand of 64.
“It’s always going to happen,” Taylor said of the tourists’ toil.
“That’s the worst time in cricket - when the tailenders are scoring runs.
“It’s perfect for us, and so annoying (for them). We ground them down, and hope we can come out and get a few more wickets now.”
Taylor nonetheless had to work hard to get the better of the attack which, if fit, will represent West Indies in next week’s Lord’s Test.
“They’ve got some quality bowlers, some good pace and bounce," he added.
“They’ve got some quick balls in them, those boys, and showed that. But luckily, it was my day - and it came off all right.”
The captain is optimistic too that his own bowlers can again make the most of conditions which were very tough for batsmen on day one, and slightly less so today.
“It’s still doing enough,” he said.
“The wicket got better. But when they took the second new ball, there was plenty of bounce, and there’s still enough in the wicket - as we exploited this evening.”
West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach had to leave the field with a twisted ankle in the evening session, but is expected to be able to play a full part in the remainder of the match.