Taylor primed for service in the field
Chris Taylor believes his experiences in the legendary Gloucestershire one-day team were instrumental in his decision to pursue a side career as a fielding coach.
The diminutive batsman is renowned as one of the best fielders on the county circuit, and he has been rewarded for his prowess by being named as the fielding coach for the England Performance Programme.
The performance squad travel to India for two four-day matches in November and December, shadowing the main England party currently on a one-day international and Test tour.
“I’ve always known fielding is important, and I’ve always enjoyed it, which helps," Taylor told ecb.co.uk.
“There aren’t many fielding coaches in world cricket. I can only name a few - Trevor Penney (with Indian Premier League side Kings XI Punjab), Richard Halsall (England) and Julien Fountain (West Indies).
“There may not be many people doing it, but fielding is definitely a very important part of modern-day cricket. Teams are quite rightly placing high importance on it and looking to improve."
Taylor will work alongside main coach David Parsons, batting coach Dene Hills and bowling coach Kevin Shine - and he brings thoughts of his own to the job.
“The role is all-encompassing,” Taylor added. “My brief is pretty wide, I’m here to add value as much as possible to the team aspects of fielding as well as the individual.
“I’m very keen that every member can go to ground in some respect - whether that’s diving or sliding.
“At the moment, there’s a general feeling in world cricket that players either do it, or don’t.
“I’m of the belief that everyone should do it. So I’ll be focusing on safe ways that guys can go to ground.”
Taylor is relishing his chance to work with a talented 17-man performance party, a mixture of players next in line for an England call-up and younger players earmarked for selection further down the line.
“Michael Vaughan and Monty Panesar have been on the programme in Loughborough this week,” added Taylor.
“Monty will obviously join up with the main squad, and Michael’s hoping to be reconsidered.
“Then there’s a real promising mixture of players. We’ve seen how well the likes of Eoin Morgan, Dawid Malan and Ollie Rayner have performed when they’ve had the chance.
“We mirror the main party and we’ll be looking to spend a week or so with them, and our role is to make sure these guys can step in at the drop of a hat.”
The 32-year-old has just finished his ninth season at Gloucestershire, and celebrated by scoring over 1,000 first-class runs for only the second time in his career.
His tally contained included eight fifties and two centuries against promoted sides Worcestershire and Warwickshire.
Gloucestershire have been without a first-team coach after Mark Alleyne left his position in April - and Taylor was asked to help team mentor Jack Russell and batting coach Owen Dawkins.
“With the changes in coaching personnel at Gloucestershire this season, I was asked to take on the fielding capacity,” Taylor explains.
“It’s worked really well, and my long-term plan is to pursue it after my playing days.
“To allow me to have a go at it while still playing was a great opportunity and one I had to grasp.”
He freely admits that he is influenced by his early days at the county, when coach John Bracewell and skipper Alleyne forged a formidable one-day unit based on all-round ability, winning seven one-day trophies in six years.
Taylor’s role in the 2000 NatWest Trophy campaign is telling. He made 41 at number six against Leicestershire, but batted at seven or eight for the rest of the tournament, and was not required to bat in the victory over Warwickshire at Lord’s.
He says: “I’ve seen first-hand from the Gloucestershire experience how important fielding is. We made a real point of it.
“Bracewell and Alleyne were both a big fan of everyone having an input in the field.
“We left no stone unturned and we didn’t carry anyone. Players were selected on their all-round ability, not just with ball or bat.
“It was how I broke into the Gloucestershire one-day team. At the time we had a lot of all-rounders and there was often a space free for a batsman or a bowler.
“The fact that I was competent in the field allowed me to get the nod.
“And now I can really see the benefit of having 11 good fielders."