Ross Taylor: World Cricket's Batsman of the Month, December 2013

Tim CollinsFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2013

HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 21:  Ross Taylor of New Zealand celebrates after scoring a century during day three of the Third Test match between New Zealand and the West Indies at Seddon Park on December 21, 2013 in Hamilton, New Zealand.  (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
Hannah Johnston/Getty Images

They say that 12 months is a long time in Test cricket. Conversely, they also say that much can change in 12 short months.

For Ross Taylor and New Zealand, both are true.

In December 2012, the immensely gifted batsman led the Kiwis to their first victory over Sri Lanka in more than a decade. Then it all unravelled.

Following that victory, Taylor stepped down from the captaincy, opting out of the tour of South Africa while Brendon McCullum was named his successor.

Taylor then disputed claims that he'd refused to accept a two-way split of the captaincy, sparking a feud with New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and coach Mike Hesson.

That saw Taylor enforce a self-imposed exile from the game, only returning for England's visit of New Zealand in the early part of 2013.

Now that has all been forgotten; reconciliation is complete.

Long considered the most talented New Zealand batsman since Martin Crowe, Taylor has made the jump into the world's elite that many have believed he was destined for since making his debut in 2007.

Although his return against England was underwhelming, the fluid right-hander signalled what is to come with an emphatic conclusion to 2013, hammering 700 runs from his last nine innings of the year at a staggering average of 140.00.

Three consecutive hundreds against the West Indies in December powered New Zealand to a thumping victory over their guests from the Caribbean, entrenching Taylor among the finest batsmen in Test cricket.


December Performance Summary:

RunsOpponentMatch TypeVenueMatch Dates
217*, 16*West IndiesTestDunedinDec. 3 - 7
129West IndiesTestWellingtonDec. 11 - 13
131, 2*West IndiesTestHamiltonDec. 19 - 22
3West IndiesODIAucklandDec. 26


Standout Performance:

By cruising to 217 not out against the West Indies in Dunedin, Taylor completed his highest Test score and the first double-hundred of his career.

Of course, there will be those who are quick to point out the lack of venom in the West Indies' attack, but those that watched Taylor's graceful innings will understand the tantalising potential New Zealand own in their 29-year-old star.

From both the front and back foot, the right-hander stroked the West Indies all over the University Ground, combining thunderous cuts from deep in his crease with sumptuous drives on the up through cover.

New Zealand's finest swordsman also thwarted Shane Shillingford, carving him around the Dunedin venue with delightfully quick footwork, just a month after he had proven a handful for India's batsmen.


Outlook For January:

OpponentMatch TypeVenueMatch Dates
West IndiesODIQueenstownJan. 1
West IndiesODINelsonJan. 4
West IndiesODIHamiltonJan. 8
West IndiesTwenty20AucklandJan. 11
West IndiesTwenty20WellingtonJan. 15
IndiaODINapierJan. 19
IndiaODIHamiltonJan. 22
IndiaODIAucklandJan. 25
IndiaODIHamiltonJan. 28
IndiaODIWellingtonJan. 31


Unfortunately for Taylor, he'll be forced to wait until February before getting the chance to compile another substantial Test innings, with New Zealand set to play only limited-overs cricket against the West Indies and India in January.

With eight one-day internationals on the schedule, it's unlikely that Taylor will compete in all of his side's 50-over encounters, with New Zealand's priorities likely to involve climbing the ICC Test Rankings, whilst also priming themselves for a solid ICC World Twenty20 campaign.

However, Taylor will eye the ODIs against India as a chance to acquaint himself with the subcontinental bowlers he's set to face in a two-Test series against the world's No. 2 ranked side beginning on February 6 in Auckland.