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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk