Opportunity knocks for Taylor’s Lions
What better way to press your England claims than against England themselves?
That is the opportunity for James Taylor’s England Lions in tomorrow’s 50-over game with the senior side at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
The previous time those teams met was almost two years ago, at the same venue, when uncapped duo Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb’s 100-run opening stand set up an unexpected Twenty20 triumph for the Lions.
Three months later Kieswetter and Lumb, who hurried to 81 and 58 not out respectively in Abu Dhabi, were World Twenty20 winners against Australia at Barbados.
Taylor is fully aware of the possibilities that could come if he or another Lion shines in England’s only warm-up for four one-day and three Twenty20 internationals versus Pakistan.
“As you saw with what Kieswetter and Lumb did, scoring those runs is only going to help your chance of playing for England, showing the selectors what you can do against their own team,” Taylor said.
“It’s a great opportunity for myself and the other guys in the team to show the selectors, show Andy Flower, what they can do against their own side. It’s just a great opportunity and if we can beat them like we did two years ago it would be amazing.”
The 22-year-old has once played for the senior England side, in an ODI with Ireland at Dublin last August.
Batting at three, the short right-hander managed only one although the visitors secured an 11-run Duckworth/Lewis win.
“It was a brief experience but a good one at that, even though my own personal performance wasn’t great,” Taylor recalled.
“It was amazing to be part of such a good side. England cricket is so strong at the moment, being involved was amazing. A little taste.
“Unfortunately it didn’t go according to plan but it was a great experience and something I’m going to have to work really hard (at) to get back. The only way I’m going to do that is keep knocking on the door by weight of runs and being as consistent as I can.”
Taylor had further opportunity to learn from the senior players during December’s England Performance Programme camp in India attended by Test captain Andrew Strauss, Matt Prior and Eoin Morgan.
“Luckily I was out in India with Prior, Strauss and Morgan so I had a good opportunity to chat with those guys, which was really good and beneficial to pick their brains about one or two things,” he added.
“That’s great to be able to speak to those guys who have made it, had really successful international careers and get those ‘one per cent-ers’ from them.”
That training trip focused on playing spin, something Taylor has put into practice on the Lions' tours of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka this year.
Those skills will no doubt help him against the likes of Graeme Swann, Samit Patel and Danny Briggs tomorrow.
“I’d like to think that’s a big part of my game; playing spin in the middle overs is something I’m very confident of doing,” he said.
“If I was to get into the England side I think it’s something I could definitely offer them in the middle overs.”