'Great find by John Wright. Definitely up there as one of the best': Taylor praises India's 28-year-old 'fantastic' star

Updated on Mar 25, 2022 10:20 AM IST

Ahead of his final ODI series, New Zealand great Ross Taylor heaped massive praise on India's 28-year-old cricketer.

Ross Taylor was effusive in his praise for the star Indian cricketer. (Getty Images)
Ross Taylor was effusive in his praise for the star Indian cricketer. (Getty Images)
By, New Delhi

As Ross Taylor prepares for his swansong in international cricket, the New Zealand legend says he's prepared for a rush of emotions to take over when he walks out to play the three ODIs and a one-off T20I against the Netherlands starting Friday. Taylor, who in December announced that he will retire at the end of the season, played his final Test against Bangladesh, equalling Daniel Vettori’s record for most Test caps for New Zealand and bid adieu to Test cricket in a manner many greats haven't. (Also Read: Ross Taylor gears up for swansong as New Zealand host Netherlands in limited overs series) 

Taylor was the author of the final act as he picked up a rare wicket – only his second across a 14-year-long career – following which he was mugged by his teammates. The final wicket went down and New Zealand levelled the series. Taylor could not have expected a more perfect farewell. Now, as Taylor, 38, readies himself for his final appearance for New Zealand, the veteran batter admits he will be a lot calmer and focussed on the job at hand. 

"I suppose once you make the decision, you live with it. The Test match was probably where it hit hard the most that you're finishing your Test career, but I am now excited about the one-dayers; probably not as emotional knowing that there is a bit of cricket after that. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the international arena; achieved things I never dreamt of.  Looking forward to playing some one-day cricket again. It's been a while," Taylor told Hindustan Times in an interview.

Taylor will go down as one of New Zealand's greatest; will probably be spoken of in the same breath as Martin Crowe, Richard Hadlee, Stephen Fleming and Kane Williamson among others. During a near 15-year-long career, Taylor has seen it all – the disappointment of finishing runner-up in two World Cup finals and the high of New Zealand winning the inaugural World Test Championship. Against the No.1-ranked Test team India, with the Black Caps requiring 140-odd to win, it was Taylor and Williamson's unbeaten stand of 96 that guided the Kiwis home. Against a top-quality Indian attack, that 150-run target would have appeared 250, but Taylor ensured he wasn’t going to let this one go.

To excel against the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma at the top of their game, let alone face them in English conditions, was always going to require a special effort and Taylor rose to the occasion and fit in like a glove as New Zealand bettered their already-impressive record against India in ICC matches. In between, Taylor had to endure a couple of nervy moments as a butter-fingered India offered him two lifelines. He was in for 13 overs when Jasprit Bumrah started moving the ball viciously. Fourth ball of the 30th over was banged right in the channel. Taylor prodded, poked at it and nicked the ball to first slip where Cheteshwar Pujara dropped a dolly. Bumrah's overs to Taylor could have passed for one of the greatest spells he ever faced, and the NZ acknowledges it.

"Oh, he is a fantastic bowler. There's obviously his pace, but I think for me, it's his action. He is just that little bit quicker than you expect. With the uniqueness of his action, it's not as easy to pick up, especially early on in his innings. He was a great find by John Wright. Whether it's T20, one-day or Tests, he is definitely up there as one of the best if not the best all-format bowler going around in world cricket at the moment," the New Zealand great pointed out.

Cut to the Netherlands series and Taylor admits his preparations haven't been ideal. The 38-year-old was supposed to play the three warm-ups – two one-day games and a T20 match – for the New Zealand XI selection in Napier, before he contracted Covid-19. Fortunately, it was a mild boult and even though Taylor recovered for the T20 game, the same was rained off. In 233 ODIs, Taylor has over 8500 runs at an average of 48.20 including 21 centuries. He is New Zealand's leading run-scorer in the format and it won't be a bad idea to build on those numbers before calling time on a legendary career.

"I was down in Napier when we played the warm-up games. They are an international side. We don't know a lot ab out them but we have had a little bit of look at them and they have been very competitive over the years. We need the Netherlands to get as much exposure and game time. They have upset some Test-playing nations in the past so you obviously cannot take them lightly. They have the experience of playing in New Zealand. They've got a couple of local guys in their team but it's good for them to come and experience the New Zealand conditions," Taylor added.

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    Aditya Bhattacharya is an experienced online sports journalist with a forte in cricket. He has covered the 2016 ICC World T20 in India, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England along with several Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare tournaments across the country. When not working, Aditya can be found either hooked to the PlayStation or sharpening the chords on a guitar, while straddling binge-watching and shadow-practicing like Ajay Devgn on two bikes.

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