Taylor hails ECB input
England Lions batsman James Taylor heaped praise on the ECB and the senior England squad as he bids to enhance his claims for a senior call-up.
Taylor believes the ECB’s detailed preparation had a huge impact on the England Performance Programme squad in Australia before Christmas and claims the momentum England gained during the Ashes had a knock-on effect for the second-string side.
The 21-year-old wants to use that impetus as the basis for another good tour of the Caribbean, where the Lions will be participating in the West Indian domestic first-class competition.
Leicestershire will be well represented given Taylor is joined by Nathan Buck, who was called into the squad yesterday for the initial stages of the trip after Tim Bresnan’s injury gave Steve Finn the opportunity to stay in Australia with the one-day party.
Buck cannot wait for his first England Lions experience and Taylor is still buzzing from the EPP experience Down Under, where he had never previously played.
“It was a great experience to be out in Australia and very different to what we'd heard about,” said Taylor. "Australia weren't on top in the Ashes series at home like they've been used to and it was a funny atmosphere.
"It was almost like they were humbled in a way. They were on the back foot in the Test series because of the way England played and that showed, even in the games we played.
"There was quite a bit of overlap (between the Ashes party and the EPP) as Steve Davies, Eoin Morgan, Ajmal Shahzad and Chris Tremlett all played for us.
"That bought a feel of the Ashes series into our squad and that was good. I'd played with all of those lads before so it wasn't a completely new experience, but it was a good one.
"To see Chris go from us to being a key member of the Ashes squad was great because it shows how things can change in a second and showed how you have to be prepared for all things.
"The ECB do that brilliantly for us. They want us to be world-class cricketers so we train really hard and everything in terms of preparation is intense.”
Taylor is in excellent form ahead of the Lions tour, having made an unbeaten 137 in the EPP’s final game in Australia.
That innings came as an opener and his ability to adapt between the middle and top of the order should stand him in good stead for the future.
"I finished the tour on a high, which was great," he said. "It was certainly a challenge to open again and I came out on top in scoring a hundred, which was pleasing.
"I hadn't opened since playing in county cricket, where I've found my preferred position in the middle order.
"But I used to open at under-19 level and at school and I enjoyed it. We played on a good pitch and I just set out to bat as long as I could. I just had to bide my time and the runs came."
Taylor is ready for what promises to be a hugely competitive eight-week experience playing the likes of Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago.
He enjoyed a rare break at Christmas but has since returned to his active training schedule, including facing Buck in the nets.
Buck, who was expecting to go to the Dennis Lillee Academy in Chennai as part of the ECB’s Fast Bowling Programme, bowled at Taylor in preparation for the trip to India before the Lions call came.
Taylor enjoyed the contest with his colleague and cannot wait to put on the pads in the Caribbean and take on the challenges that a hectic 2011 has to offer.
“I can't wait to get started again," he said. "This is certainly a busy year for me but I thrive on the challenge. I had a couple of weeks off at Christmas but I enjoy training so it wasn't a problem for me to start again quickly.
"I haven't been to the West Indies since I was 13 so it will be a bit foreign to me, but we have prepared well. We have trained hard and faced plenty of quick bowling in the nets so that will prepare us for the fast, bouncy pitches out in the West Indies.
"I faced Bucky at one point and he is in really good shape. We also worked on reverse swing so we are prepared for everything that we'll face in the West Indies.
"I have seen and spoken to most of the lads at Leicestershire and they already can't wait to get started again. We had a really good team spirit last season and we want to carry that on.
"But first comes the Lions tour. Playing first-class cricket in the West Indies will give us a goal and I'm looking forward to it.
“I want to get runs and show the selectors what I can do but the key for me is to not look too far ahead into the future. I'm focused on the next challenge with the Lions.”