James Taylor could be the man to fill England's middle order hole

 

There is less than a week until what for many is the true start of the cricketing summer, the first Test Match of the year, and yet there is still some uncertainty about the composition of England's batting lineup.

This in truth is not a new development. Since the international retirement of Paul Collingwood, there have been many suitors vying for his spot at number six, although for the time being Joe Root – seemingly the new golden boy of English cricket – is the man in possession.

However with Kevin Pietersen set to miss at least the first course of this summer's cricketing banquet through injury, England's selectors have to once again find a man to plug the middle order.

Judging by their policy in recent years, Jonny Bairstow would appear to be in pole position. The Yorkshireman stepped in for Pietersen in March during the tour of New Zealand and after a tentative start to the domestic season he has made scores of 186 and 53 in his last two innings.

However for all Bairstow's claims, there is also a very strong case to be made for James Taylor. To start with, many feel the diminutive right-hander has been pretty harshly treated since he made his debut against South Africa last summer.

Despite making his bow on the international stage in a turbulent series overshadowed by the Pietersen furore and even though he shared a vital stand of 147 at Headingley with his text-happy teammate, Taylor was dropped after just one more game and left out of the touring parties for India and New Zealand - a move seemingly harking back to the ruthless chopping and changing policy so favoured by selectors in the 90s.

If the 23-year-old had harboured any hopes of an upturn in his fortunes at the start of this domestic season, then his omission from the ECB’s 30-man performance squad added further insult to injury.

However in spite of all this, Taylor has done the only thing he could to try and ensure the gaze of the all-seeing selectorial eye fell kindly upon him – make runs. He has two hundreds already this season – one grittily defiant, the other off just 98 balls in a limited overs game – not to mention a score of 97 and two further half centuries.

It is this early-season form that has seen him earn a call up to the England Lions side currently locking horns with New Zealand at Grace Road – an opportunity that gives him a chance to firmly show his true credentials for that much-coveted spot in England’s middle order.

Taylor has been a consistent performer in the past for the Lions, averaging an impressive 61.60, indeed it was this that catapulted him up to the heady heights of international cricket in the first place.

Faced with almost certainly the same New Zealand side that will play England at Lord’s next week, he must know that should he make a big score, he will make it hard for the selectors to overlook him – even if he is 5ft6.

Of course his Lions teammate Bairstow also has the chance to cement his place, but should he slip up then perhaps old doubts about aspects of his technique might resurface and his failure in both innings of his last international outing might begin to count against him, which would give Taylor a chance.        

Provided he can take it and re-convince the selectors of his worth with some all-important runs, then James Taylor could yet prove a handy man for England.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried