Simon Jones made his debut on the back of a successful 2002, in Division Two. Alastair Cook made his debut in early 2006 after two good seasons with Essex, again, in Division Two. The list does go on. But a young lad decided not to stick with Division Two. Now, he does not find himself in the EPS for 2013 and there is a chance he won’t be batting higher than No.5 for his county. The story of James Taylor, Leicestershire to Lions to England to Nottinghamshire… and back?
It certainly seems he has started going backwards down this line. After averaging over 55 in Australia for the Lions, being the most successful batsmen by far, he has missed out on a spot in the EPS, while Ravi Bopara, Eoin Morgan and Samit Patel all seem worthy enough. It’s well-known this list of players is not all that important, although it will be a kick in the teeth for the little lad. Especially with the No.6 spot in the England team still open to applicants.
Three years ago, Taylor was at Grace Road, after a breakthrough season which consisted of 1,207 at an average of 57.47 in the County Championship. He picked up two young players awards, beating former team-mate Stuart Broad to the honours. Another 1,000 run season followed by a 2012 consisting of over 1,500 runs and more England Lions tours made him the hottest youngster on the scene. His ODI debut came while still at Leicestershire, against Ireland (when even coach Andy Flower was ‘rested’).
His move to Nottinghamshire may have been extremely ill-advised. Most likely aiming to follow in Stuart Broad’s footsteps, Taylor moved to bowler friendly Trent Bridge, despite the flat tracks at Edgbaston also being interested in his signature. At Nottinghamshire, Taylor had to wait until July 28, the longest wait for a first-class century in his career, for his first century of the season in the county championship. It did, however, come at the right time. Ravi Bopara left the squad for personal reasons the day after, Taylor got his shot and despite looking good, he was playing against the South Africans. They made the whole England batting line-up look very average. To add insult to his poor season, his possible destination, Warwickshire, finished County Champions, while Nottinghamshire finished middle of the pile.
This season, with at batting line-up including Lumb, Hales, Patel and overseas players Ed Cowan and David Hussey once the Ashes begins, Taylor has the potential to be batting regularly at No.5 for his county, with the managements obvious stance on batting Patel at No.4 last season. No player could make the England side as a batsmen if they were so low in their counties order. So, it looks as if Taylor won’t see any international cricket this year, despite being named in the 30-man preliminary squad for the Champions Trophy. However, you feel the only chance he will get in the top four to prove his worth in Div One is when the likes of Hales, Lumb, and Patel are away playing in the competition, when eyes will most certainly be off the Championship.
It seems unlikely, but the stock-value of not-so-youngster-anymore-James Taylor has certainly dropped. Lets say he does want to bat in the top four. Where would he go? I can’t see any div one clubs jumping through hoops to get him to sign. Leicestershire would surely welcome him back with open arms, and a large pay-cut. Finishing the backwards trail Taylor seems to be on. Leicestershire-Lions-England-Nottinghamshire-England-Lions… Leicestershire?
This begs the question, is the division structure flawed? No football player has a serious chance of holding down a spot in the English team while playing in the Championship. Yet, as mentioned above, Captain Cook made his England debut after performing well in Division Two. Although, six years later Taylor was advised to move to a Division One side. Has the divide between the tiers over the last decade increased? The increased activity in the ‘transfer market’ this winter would seem to say yes. But I would disagree. England hopeful, Ravi Bopara will continue with Essex in division two, while the batting line-ups in the same division will have to deal with the highest ranked spin bowler in the world, Saeed Ajmal for the last two months of the season. I also see no reason why newly promoted Yorkshire couldn’t have a shot at winning the County Championship!
Will Taylor have to go backwards before he goes forward? Should England only look to players playing regular top-tier cricket, or is there not a huge divide between the divisions? Have your say on the Forum by clicking here, comment below or even tweet me if you want!