Isn’t it amazing how responsibility can bring out the best in some?
Take New Zealand Captain, Ross Taylor, for example. Having - like his teammates - proceeded to bat in the most irresponsible manner imaginable at the Gabba, he succeeded in submerging his Mr Hyde to the deeper, darker realms of his psyche as he reconnected to the Dr Jekyll within him while he led from the front in his side’s efforts to graft out a meaningful target to set the Australians at Bellerive Oval.
Fifty-six runs to the good, and he had gone a long way in his quest on that score. Many would point out that he didn’t go on with the job and acquire a century, but in the context of the match it may well have been the equivalent. That he had accumulated the highest individual score of either side, should not go without mention.
On a pitch that mustered the harshest of disdain for any batsman who dared approach its hallowed turf, Taylor was a model of discretion as Australia’s speedsters flung all they had at him. For 169 balls he displayed the utmost of restraint as he decided discretion was the better part of valour. Time and again Peter Siddle and his sidekicks, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson, would tempt Taylor with deliveries just to the east of off stump. Every time Taylor would let the kookaburra saunter on through to the wicketkeeper unmolested.
For so long Taylor held the quickies out.
So why all of a sudden was it within him to do so? If he can achieve this when the pressure cooker is suddenly turned up to searing, why not all the time?
Sure, the current crop may not be up there with the great Australian attacks of all time, but nonetheless these are still good bowlers.
Combine this with a pitch that has an attitude which is unhelpful at best, and his efforts become even more meritorious.
Perhaps his performances are symptomatic of a team that has struggled for several years now, without a John Wright around to rein in the haphazard approach that many of them seem to employ. That the rest of the top five play the in similar spirit suggests that they have not been held to account.
Now is the time for Taylor, as Captain, to lead from the front, not once but on each and every occasion, with his performance today as the benchmark for what must be expected of him henceforth.