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Ross Taylor: The man you know, the legacy you don't

Last updated on 09 Jan 2022 | 12:14 AM
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Ross Taylor: The man you know, the legacy you don't

Tribute to the man who changed the fortunes of New Zealand cricket with his uncanny technique and fearless approach

18th June 2021: The stage was set for two of the most dominating sides in the longest format of the game to lock horns in the summit clash of the inaugural edition of the World Test championship. 

While the first day was washed out courtesy of relentless showers, after five riveting days of cricket, it all boiled down to the final session of the day with the Kiwis reeling at 44 for the loss of two wickets in pursuit of 139 when Ross Taylor walked in to take centre stage. 

On a tricky surface against a lethal Indian bowling unit, Taylor steadied the ship by accumulating the ones and the twos to keep the scoreboard ticking. 

With three runs required to win the coveted trophy, Taylor flicked Mohammad Shami for a boundary to carve New Zealand’s name in the history books. 

In over 17 years of his international career filled with plenty of ebbs and flows, Taylor and the Kiwis finally were crowned champions in a world event after their consistent performances at the international level. 

"To be out there in a crucial situation is something I'll never forget. This would have to be the highlight of my career. The 2019 World Cup was very tough for us at the time, but this makes up for that," he said, referring to the heart-wrenching loss in the final at the Lord’s. 

Despite the stutter, the Black Caps produced dominant performance across formats with Kane Williamson and Taylor at the forefront. 

With the 37-year old set to bid adieu to international cricket at the conclusion of the home summer, the ongoing Bangladesh Test at home is the last hurrah in international cricket. 

After an agonising loss against the Tigers in the first Test of the series, the Kiwis will hope to find their mojo and give a fitting farewell to one of the legends of the game. 

A young boy, part of Samoan descent, growing up in a little village, scripted an incredible chapter in the history of New Zealand cricket. However, cricket was not the only choice for Taylor in his childhood days as he juggled between the hockey field and the green outfields. 

Well, precisely the reason why Taylor’s slog sweep is regarded as one of the best in the world as hours of gruelling sessions on the hockey field ensured he mastered that art. 

Over the course of his career, the consistency of Taylor and his sheer grit and determination resulted in numerous records being broken and history being rewritten time and again. 

1st March 2006: A day Taylor and his family will never forget as he made his maiden appearance at the international level in an ODI game against the Windies at Napier. While the game did not go the way he would have envisioned after being caught short of his crease for 15 runs, in his ten-ball stay at the wicket, he showcased glimpses of great things to follow for New Zealand and the world of cricket. 

After 17 years at the highest level, Taylor is the leading run-scorer for the New Zealand side in the red-ball format with 7655 runs in 195 innings at an average of 44.77. 

Despite a slow start to his international career, Taylor has been a vital cog in the middle order of the Black Caps and forged a crucial partnership with Kane Williamson. With 3786 runs in 74 innings at an average of 57.4, the duo have shouldered the bulk of the responsibility of the side in the middle order. 

However, one of the most disheartening things is the lack of credit given to the 37-year old despite his heroics at the international level. 

In the modern era, the world of cricket is full of comparisons between some of the top batters in the world like Joe Root, Virat Kohli and Steve Smith. However, we seldom find Taylor's name in the mix despite being one of the most prolific performers across formats. 

And just as we speak about formats, here is a little something that will surprise you as Taylor is the first player ever in the history of the sport to play 100 matches across all formats. 

The only blemish in the glorious international career was the captaincy saga in 2012 that caused Taylor to step aside from the game for a brief period. While for most of the people, it would have probably seemed like the end of a glittering career, but not for Taylor. 

He returned to the fold bruised but not destroyed and scored 866 runs in 17 innings at an average of 72.16 in Tests, which is his best after relinquishing captaincy to Brendon McCullum. 

With the weight of captaincy off his shoulders, he produced dominating performances and, over time, enthralled the fans with 40 international hundred across all formats, the most by any Kiwi player. 

However, this is not the not century he has to his name as Taylor is one of the safest pair of hands in the slip cordon in this era. 

With wickets conducive for swing bowling at home, Taylor has accounted for 116 catches, the fourth-best on the list of players with the most catches. 

And just like all good things come to an end, this Test match will mark the end of a phenomenal career of one of the most underrated players in the game. 

After being a game down, New Zealand will have to produce a clinical performance to overcome the spirited Tigers to level the series and give Taylor a fitting farewell.  

"If you look at it from a neutral point of view, I think it was good for world cricket, " he said ahead of the Test match, referring to the loss a couple of days ago at Mount Maunganui. 

Through the troughs and crests, he diligently went about his business and accumulated thousands of runs silently, and now, he bids adieu to the game in a manner only he could have done.

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