Nottinghamshire batsman James Taylor believes he can step into the No 3 slot vacated by Jonathan Trott in the England batting line-up.
The 24-year-old, who played two Tests against South Africa in 2012, travels to Sri Lanka with the England Lions next week aware that he has an outstanding opportunity to make a case for inclusion in England’s one-day and Test sides to play the same opposition starting in May.
“I definitely think I can bat at three, though I’m more than happy to bat anywhere as long as I’m playing for England,” said Taylor, who admitted he had been disappointed and surprised to be left out of the Ashes touring party.
“I will back myself to the hilt, I know I can do it,” he added. “My game’s in a great spot, I scored runs last season in all formats, and this is a great chance to put my name in the hat for the summer.”
Taylor made 925 Championship runs, including two centuries, for Nottinghamshire last season at an average of 46.25. He also scored a century against Australia, as a guest player for Sussex, but although he was recalled to the Test squad as batting cover, he did not add to his previous caps.
“After I wasn’t selected [to tour] I had a long chat with [England head coach] Andy Flower, a half-hour phone call. He was really positive and gave me some feedback, then just recently when [England one-day coach] Ashley Giles came out with the England Performance Programme to Perth I had a good chat with him, walking around the outfield and talking about the ODIs.”
Taylor has just returned from playing grade cricket in Western Australia, where he has also been working on a one-to-one basis with former Australia head coach Mickey Arthur. “He lives in Perth near where I was living, and I had a mate who knew him, so it came about in a funny way but it was very worthwhile. To be around a world-class coach, somebody who has worked with the best players, and have him comment on my game was very positive.
“I’ve kind of been batted down a couple of times, but that inspires me to get up and show them what I can do and prove people wrong.
“Obviously, I got the opportunity to play against South Africa and a few years ago I played my first ODI against Ireland and then one last year. It was a short dream, but sometimes you have to take a step back to take two steps forward and I feel I’ve definitely learnt so much from that little experience.”
Having been named in England’s provisional squad for the World Twenty20 in March, he knows runs in Sri Lanka could bear fruit earlier than the summer. “I’ve got to make sure the selectors can’t not pick me. At the moment, even though I’ve scored shedloads of runs, I’ve probably given them a little bit of an excuse because I haven’t gone above and beyond.
“I’ve averaged 50 for however long, but I need to go above and beyond, and more than the guys in the Test team at the moment.”