There will be an off-spinning Hampshire versus Glamorgan showdown in Wellington this weekend, as travelling companions Brad Taylor and Andrew Salter square off in the Ewan Chatfield Trophy.
The pair are spending the winter in New Zealand having received two of the eight Overseas Placements awarded by the ECB as part of the International Pathway.
And this weekend Taylor’s Petone team make the short trip to face Salter’s Johnsonville.
"We’ve been seeing quite a bit of each other out here, so it will be good to play against him"
“We’ve been seeing quite a bit of each other out here, so it will be good to play against him,” said Taylor, the former England Under-19s captain who is aiming to follow in the footsteps of his Hampshire team-mate Mason Crane, who enjoyed such a successful Placement in Sydney last winter.
He made a perfect start, underlining his all-round potential by striking a century in Petone’s one-day match against Karori, while both Taylor and Salter have been performing solidly with the ball.
Just as important to the development of their game in New Zealand is the opportunity to practise with the Wellington Firebirds, and to receive specialist coaching from Jeetan Patel, the international off-spinner who has become such a popular and respected figure in county cricket through his seasons with Warwickshire.
“It’s pretty awesome to be bowling with Jeets,” added Taylor. “I’d never really spoken to him before. But he’s a really good bloke, and he really wants to help us.
“We’ve both been doing a bit of technical work with him, and I’m already seeing some decent stuff back in terms of the shape I’m getting on the ball. But he’s also got so much knowledge of the tactical side of the game.
“I know from talking to Mason it was the same for him with Stuart MacGill in Sydney last winter. Guys like Jeets and MacGill know the game better than anyone, and there’s so much we can learn from them.
“But the other great thing is the chance to bowl. Spinners are a bit different to seamers, we just need to bowl out in the middle, and you don’t always get that at home. So the chance to bowl consistently through our winter, against a range of different batters, as well as working with Jeets and training with the Firebirds, makes it a great option for both me and Salts.”
Taylor only made one senior appearance for Hampshire last summer, in their Specsavers County Championship match against Lancashire in Manchester. “Mason and Liam Dawson both had good seasons which meant I spent most of the year in the second team,” added the 20-year-old.
“But I was happy with the way my season went in the seconds, with bat as well as ball – I made two one-day hundreds, and I definitely see myself as an all-rounder now.
“That’s why it’s so good to be out here in Wellington with the chance to kick on from the summer, play some more cricket and keep things going into next season at home.”
Off the field, Taylor and Salter are aiming to maintain their record of running to the top of Mount Victoria at least once a week – they are pictured at the summit with some local team-mates – while Salter is keen to explore more of the North Island on a motorbike. “He’s very close to securing the deal,” Taylor says. “It’s the first time in New Zealand for me, and we’ve been having a good time exploring.”
One ambitious goal would be to emulate Crane’s achievement with New South Wales last year, and that of Scott Borthwick on his placement in Wellington two winters ago, by earning a place in the local first-class competition. “That would be great, obviously, but it won’t be easy because they’ve got a couple of good spinners ahead of us,” Taylor conceded. “But we practise with them regularly at the Basin Reserve, so we’ll see how it goes.”
The other six youngsters on placements this winter are across the Tasman, with Surrey wicketkeeper-batsman Ollie Pope scoring a century for the Campbelltown-Camden Ghosts in Sydney’s western suburbs last weekend.
Pope scores 114 at Raby on Saturday getting the boys comfortably home against St George. pic.twitter.com/2tOATYtGMN— Ghosts Cricket (@ghostscricket) November 5, 2017
Sussex all-rounder Delray Rawlins, who made such an impression with England’s Under-19s in India last winter, is playing for Sydney CC, and Derbyshire’s leg-spinning all-rounder Matt Critchley is in Sydney for a second consecutive winter, now playing for Fairfield-Liverpool having represented Randwick-Petersham last year.
The experience of having a massive spider in your set of drawers 🙈🙈 #welcometoaus— Delray Rawlins (@delraw09) October 28, 2017
Another leggie, Lancashire’s Matthew Parkinson, has made an encouraging start as he follows in the slightly daunting footsteps of Crane at Gordon CC, and on the other side of Australia in Perth, Somerset’s George Bartlett came close to a century on his debut for University of Western Australia – while Middlesex opener Max Holden arrived slightly later after delaying his departure to have a minor knee operation.