Taylor has been shafted again
OPINION: For someone who’s done so much for the profile and success of New Zealand Cricket, Ross Taylor must wonder what he’s done to upset them. You could argue strongly either way for his omission from the Black Caps Twenty20 side for a largely meaningless series.
For me, that was less of an issue than the body blow delivered by NZC chief executive David White when he blocked Taylor’s path to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on January 1.
A quick trip across the Tasman (no doubt flying in comfort) to play the Melbourne Big Bash derby in front of 70,000 people, a day after a domestic T20 game and 12 days before his next international assignment, was deemed unworthy of an exemption from the playtravel-play rule.
A rule that was conveniently broken for Tom Blundell’s international debut a week later, driving with White from New Plymouth to Tauranga to play on successive days.
Yes, Taylor was injured but his side strain was diagnosed after the decision was made.
As Taylor tells it, coach Mike Hesson was in favour of the Melbourne cameo but White intervened along with Players’ Association boss Heath Mills, sternly pointing to the rules on the master agreement.
Not for the first time with Taylor, White dropped the ball and needlessly aggravated the Black Caps batting colossus, soon to become the country’s test century record holder.
It even scratched some old wounds which had since healed.
Through minimal fault of his own, Taylor was humiliated and treated appallingly by his employer during the captaincy saga four years ago.
More recently he kept a dignified silence when savaged by Brendon McCullum in his book, to his credit and much to the relief of NZC.
At age 32 and with 11 years of sterling service to the black cap, surely Taylor deserves some love.
Rules are broken all the time at the whims of NZC, like in 2013 when they allowed their top players to arrive late to England to cash in on the IPL.
Injuries are an occupational hazard, and a batsman is much less at risk than a fast bowler.
And for the ‘rules are rules’ brigade, spare me. Not all cricketers are created equal.
The pay scale ranks them one to 21 and the best get paid the most.
They should be afforded special treatment, not penalised by their success and denied golden opportunities on the big stage, to perhaps impress a prospective Indian Premier League franchise.
Black Caps annual retainers of up to $200,000 are about one-tenth of Australia’s top players.
Ish Sodhi and Colin Munro missed the test squad but got an Australian T20 bonus opportunity that might launch them into the IPL.
Taylor didn’t raise the subject on Tuesday, he was asked at a press conference and gave honest answers without going overboard. He was irked, and said so. His reference to White’s role carried a small dose of venom, too, and he ended with a light-hearted dig when questioning whether he’ll get a No Objection Certificate for the IPL auction and a proposed T20 stint with Sussex.
NZC need Taylor more than he needs them.
He looked a new batsman against Pakistan and after his eye surgery should be firing, Martin Crowe’s 17-century mark beckoning.
His absence from the Australia tour was gaping, both with runs amid a shaky middle order and nous and experience in the field as a trusted sidekick to captain Kane Williamson.
In the post-McCullum era, Taylor is back among the leadership group and contributing strongly.
In theory it should be the time of his life, to borrow a phrase, with batting records tumbling and young players thriving under his tutelage.
This standoff is unlikely to cause Taylor to pull stumps early on NZC, but it will certainly cause him to rethink his international longevity.
Big winter gaps for the next two years in the Black Caps programme may help cajole Taylor to stay on, allowing him breaks and time with his young family.
But White needs to admit he got this wrong and try his best to appease his prized asset.
Taylor deserves that at the very least.