Tay­lor has been shafted again

Waikato Times - - SPORT - MARK GENTY

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.

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