Cricket: Taylor seizes his second chance

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The Independent Online
FOR SOME players Paul Taylor's comment on joining the England A team in South Africa yesterday would be just another sporting cliche. But for the Northamptonshire left-armer the desire for 'just a chance to show what I can do' represents a heartfelt wish.

Taylor was the forgotten man of 1993. Having followed his surprise selection for England's tour of India with five wickets in his first match, he ended the tour as popular with the management as a Chinese prawn.

He had even less influence on the series, barely playing after the Calcutta Test - largely for fear of his footmarks being exploited by the Indian spinners. Mark Ilott, who he joins on tour, was then preferred during the summer despite Taylor having his best season of county cricket.

'It was disappointing not to play more cricket but it was a good learning experience being with all those international players,' Taylor said on arrival. 'I feel I came back a better cricketer and I was more consistent last year, especially in my mental approach.'

Taylor, who has a broader perspective than many players, having spent four years out of the game after an unsuccessful spell at Derbyshire, has spent the winter driving a forklift truck and playing indoor cricket.

He was put on stand-by when Martin Bicknell - who flew home last night - was first injured three weeks ago but, having married during the summer, was not too upset at spending Christmas and new year at home.

Taylor says he is ready to face Northern Transvaal at nearby Verwoerdburg tomorrow, but will probably have to wait since Ilott and Dominic Cork are due to return.

England's main concern is whether to change their batting order, which was weak under pressure in Durban. The problems start at the top, where Mark Lathwell has failed to reach 12 in seven of his 11 innings and the first wicket has gone down before 20 more often than not.

Given Lathwell's poor foot movement early on, he may be more suited to appearing down the order, while Adrian Dale would be better placed in his Glamorgan position of three. Both changes could be accommodated by moving John Crawley to his preferred position of opener.

Alan Igglesden, the Kent fast bowler, bowled in the nets during England's training at Lilleshall yesterday for the first time since straining a side muscle in Portugal three weeks ago. 'Alan will not bowl flat out until we reach the West Indies but we are confident he will be fully fit by then,' Keith Fletcher, the England manager, said.