No winter of discontent for Taylor
For one so young, James Taylor has quickly become accustomed to spending long periods away from home.
Not only has the England Lions captain, who turns 22 tomorrow, been on the road with Leicestershire for much of the last four summers, he has played abroad during the past four winters.
That began with England Under-19s in early 2008, when he participated in the U19 World Cup, and has continued with the England Performance Programme plus England Lions.
This winter looks to be Taylor’s busiest yet. Having represented the Foxes at the Champions League T20 in September, he linked up with the EPP at Loughborough during November before attending a training camp in India last month.
The diminutive batsman, who joined Nottinghamshire on December 1, has this week arrived in Bangladesh for a six-week tour with the Lions. That precedes their one-day game with England in Abu Dhabi on February 10 and trip to Sri Lanka.
With the prospect of Notts’ pre-season preparations in Barbados during late March to follow, Taylor could be forgiven if he finds himself homesick.
However, he is fortunate in not struggling to occupy his ‘down time’ while overseas, which he believes is “the biggest challenge” of touring.
“Each individual deals with that in their own way and it’s something that you’ve got to combat,” Taylor said.
“It’s not too tricky for myself, just getting over the foreign conditions and trying to find the right food at the right time and get it when you can.
“I think that’s the biggest challenge, and then trying to make things seem as friendly and as like home as possible.”
He is in charge of a youthful 16-man party, of whom only 27-year-old seamers Jack Brooks and Boyd Rankin were born before 1989.
Although some may find a winter on the road daunting, Taylor says the playing experience of his squad means many are ready for that.
“It’s an inexperienced squad, it’s a young squad,” he added. “(But) most of the guys have played a lot of cricket.
“Even though I’m 21 I’ve played 60 first-class games, 50-odd one-dayers, so even though I’m young I’ve had that experience now and played games like a lot of those younger guys in this team. So even though we’re young, we’ve played a lot of cricket.
“Going out to foreign conditions is hard, and Bangladesh are good in their own back yard, so it’s going to be even more of a challenge and something that we’re definitely looking forward to.”
The Lions will be tested by the slow, spin-friendly pitches they encounter in Bangladesh, starting with tomorrow’s practice match at Chittagong.
The same city hosts the first three 50-over games versus Bangladesh A, with the fourth and fifth matches at Sylhet and two Twenty20s to follow in Dhaka.
The Lions batsmen are well prepared for these contests, having attended last month’s training camp in Mumbai and Pune.
“The whole camp out there was focused on playing spin and, because England haven’t done so well in the sub-continent, there was a massive emphasis on that and trying to improve the younger players in England at playing spin,” Taylor explained.
“It was good for the guys to realise how crucial it is, playing against spin in the sub-continent and learning ways to combat the spin in those middle overs. That’s something we all learnt out there and working with Graham Thorpe, a good player of spin himself, was really interesting.”
For his part, Taylor is excited about leading the tourists in alien conditions having retained the captaincy from Sri Lanka A’s summer visit.
“I didn’t go searching for the captaincy because I think that would be wrong, focusing solely on trying to be captain,” he revealed.
“But I’m delighted that I’ve been given that added responsibility by the selectors. They showed faith in me and backed me as a captain.
“It’s an opportunity to show what I can do in a different role and take on that added pressure and responsibility to score runs for my side, and captain the side as well.
“It’s going to be a tough challenge, foreign conditions, six weeks away from home. It’s going to be tough for the guys. It’s going to be an interesting challenge for myself leading that side.”