As relationships go, England and one-day cricket has been more Kermit and Miss Piggy than Romeo and Juliet, save of course for the inevitably tragic conclusion.
While other nations have taken turns being the ringmaster in the limited-overs circus, the English have been the perennial sad clowns, scaring the children in the front row.
Given their paucity of success, you would think that every nook and cranny of the domestic game had been scoured, the brightest and best prospects thrown into the international arena to try and improve their nation’s chances.
It would seem unthinkable that they could overlook a man whose domestic one-day average puts him in the top three of all time and yet, two token matches against Ireland aside, that has until recently been the one-day fate of James Taylor.
Now however, the diminutive right-hander – it being almost contractually obligable to refer to him as such – has finally been given a proper chance, and it appears he is no mood to let it slip from his hands.
He made his bow in this series only through chance, Alastair Cook’s one-game ban for England’s slow over rate allowing him his shot, but it has proved more than a huge slice of luck for a side who were approaching the imminent World Cup with all the confidence of a particularly anxious field mouse.
His success has come as no shock to any who have observed Taylor in recent seasons, the only surprise is that is has taken the selectors so long to put him in the side.
His height inevitably has been cited as a factor in his exclusion, well known sage Kevin Pietersen among those to write him off, commenting: "His dad was a jockey and James is built for the same gig.”
This though is palpably a ludicrous reason, Taylor, at 5ft 6, is an inch taller than Sachin Tendulkar and only an inch shorter than Don Bradman, and neither of those men seemed to have much problem with international cricket.
These are of course early days for Taylor, but the 25-year-old has demonstrated in the last two ODIs that he has the all-round game to succeed – one minute scampering quick singles the next clubbing the ball straight back past the bowler with a shot that belonged in KP’s skunk-haired textbook.
However it is not just in England that Taylor has been winning fans, Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews was in no doubt after the Pallekele game that the right-hander was a class act.
“He looks a very good player,” he said. “In these conditions it’s going to be a challenge for the English players, it’s turning, it’s slow, but he seems to have been batting on a different pitch for the past two games.”
When asked if he was surprised Taylor hadn’t been given a chance before, Mathews was on the verge of agreeing before opting for diplomacy and simply re-stating that he was a ‘good player’.
This has not been the easiest tours for England, torn between trying to win the games in front of them and trying to plan for the future, but now at last in Taylor they seem to have found a man to make a happy marriage of both.Reuse content