Ross Taylor on 100th Test: Failures along the way shape you as a person

Taylor is on the verge of becoming the first batsman to play 100 matches in Tests, ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals. He has played 231 ODIs and 100 T20Is.

From 2007, when Ross Taylor made his Test debut against South Africa at Johannesburg, Taylor has been with this New Zealand side through the seasons.   -  GETTY IMAGES

He’s a modern batsman with bat speed and whiplash hits who can also play the delicate strokes. Ross Taylor can wait for the ball to land, turn off the surface and essay the late cut at the last moment.

Of course, some of his horizontal bat shots can be fierce too. Not many batsmen have put the slog-sweep to such devastating effect as Taylor has done.

From 2007, when he made his Test debut against South Africa at Johannesburg, Taylor has been with this New Zealand side through the seasons, often making his mark with a touch of class.

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How wonderful it would be then that this Wellington-born charmer would be playing his 100th Test, in front of his family, friends and fans, when he steps on the field against India on Friday at the Basin Reserve, his home ground.

Along the way, in 99 Tests, this wristy batsman with footwork, balance and timing, has 7174 runs at 46.28, often batting in the difficult seaming conditions of New Zealand.  

He is versatile, across formats. Taylor is on the verge of becoming the first batsman to play 100 matches in Tests, ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals. He has played 231 ODIs and 100 T20Is. “It’s satisfying. People nowadays give up on a format to focus on the others,” he said.

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He has indeed been a natural strokemaker, galloping on his skills when the going is good, conjuring moments of magic. And he has shown the heart to survive periods of struggle,

His appetite for runs hasn’t diminished a tad. “I am still as hungry as ever to score runs. After my first series, I wouldn’t have been putting much money on myself to be playing 100 Tests, that’s for sure.”

Not surprisingly, he got a call from another Kiwi in the 100-Test club Brendon McCullum. Soon a message from Daniel Vettori, one more century of Tests man, arrived.

India captain Virat Kohli paid his tribute. “He’s one guy who has made an impact a lot of times for New Zealand. I have been fortunate enough to play with him in the RCB. Lovely guy, I get along really well with him. Really hardworking and a very keen thinker of the game.”

Cricket, for Taylor, was a passion and not a job. “I guess it’s a proud milestone, more so in Tests. I love playing cricket, first and foremost. It’s not a job, it’s something you love doing,” he said.

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Asked about the key to defeating India, the 35-year-old Taylor said, “They are the world’s best side and leading the World Championship. To win Test matches, you got to be good in all three facets.”

Remarkable journey

On his remarkable journey, Taylor said, “I think the whole journey in itself. I have had some pretty high highs and some pretty low lows. Been able to deal with it the whole way through my career. I wouldn’t put one thing that outweighs anything, just the whole journey. Failures along the way shape you as a person.”

Looking at the forthcoming Test, Taylor pointed out that the Indian attack was not about Jasprit Bumrah alone. He said the pitch at the Basin looked the same every time but played differently each time. He looked at the series against India as a sort of redemption after the debacle against Australia.  

He’s still full of beans. Ask Taylor and he will tell you that life begins at 100!

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