Paul Taylor, a surprise selection for England's tour to India two winters ago, vanished with little or no trace after his one and only Test match in Calcutta, but the 29-year-old was yesterday named as the one change to England's 13- man squad for the second Test against New Zealand at Lord's on Thursday.
Taylor comes in as a replacement for another left-arm seamer, Mark Ilott of Essex, who is unavailable because of a groin strain, and unlike Ilott - who was omitted at Trent Bridge to accommodate Phillip DeFreitas - Taylor can expect to make the final XI.
Despite England's comfortable victory at Nottingham, the current vogue for sun- glasses has happily not resulted in a shipment of the rose-tinted variety, and the selectors are aware that palsied New Zealand batting on a flat pitch was more of a factor than lethal English bowling.
The argument for a left-arm seamer will be stronger at Lord's than it was at Trent Bridge, and after DeFreitas's fine performance in the first Test, the place under greatest threat from Taylor belongs to Devon Malcolm. Malcolm has survived largely because half the country's bowlers have now been supplied with disabled stickers for their sponsored car windscreens.
Of Taylor's two main rivals in selection, David Millns bowls with the wrong hand, while Millns' Leicestershire team-mate, Alan Mullally, currently bowls too few batsmen out. While Taylor's 18 first- class wickets this summer hardly represents an overpowering case for inclusion, Mullally has taken only 11 in six Championship matches.
If anyone is more pleased than Taylor about yesterday's selection, it will be Peter Such. Left-arm seamers invariably create nice patches of rough for off-spinners to exploit, and Taylor gets closer to the stumps than most of his type. However, he sometimes gets rather too adjacent for the umpires' liking.
Worries about him being red-carded out of the attack were at least partially involved in Taylor spending the final three Tests of his winter tour doing the washing up, after England's dodgy prawn experience in Madras prompted them to set up their own dressing room cafeteria.
Taylor took England's first (and his only) Test wicket on that tour, and the fact that he could not get back into the side was not down to the stiffness of the competition. In their four Tests, England conceded 2,215 runs at an average of 51.5 apiece and lost the lot - the three in India by an innings.
Nor could Taylor jolt the selectors' memory in the following summer's Ashes series, despite a decent season for Northamptonshire (61 Championship wickets at 26) at a time when Rodney Marsh's description of England's bowling - 'pie throwing' - almost qualified as a generous accolade.
In leaving the squad largely untouched, the selectors have partly confirmed they are no longer in the business of attempting to give every player in the country a game before he retires. It is not much of a motivational aid when players suspect the selectors' motto of being: 'If the cap fits, wear it . . . but if it doesn't, put it on anyway.'
On the other hand, it is a good bit easier to stick to pre- election pledges against a side as ordinary as New Zealand, and it will be interesting to see if continuity survives what threatens to be a rather more testing series against South Africa in the second half of the summer.
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