Jerome Taylor and the art of building pressure
AT the time of writing at lunch yesterday — second day of the first Test between West Indies and New Zealand — Jerome Taylor's figures read 24-11-31-1.
In other circumstances Taylor, playing his first Test since 2009 because of back-related injuries, could have had more success. He had surely bowled well enough.
Partly it was his own fault because on Sunday's first day, Thomas Latham, then on 39, had to be called back by the umpires after being neatly taken at gully. Replays showed Taylor's heel was on the line rather than behind it.
But as the elegant, technically superb Kane Williamson and the left- handed Latham methodically crafted their third-wicket stand of 165, Taylor stayed true to the old maxim that if you can't get people out you should at least try to stop them from scoring.
The strategy is called building pressure.
Taylor's consistent off-stump line at a demanding and miserly three-quarter length reminded me of the under-rated Barbadian swing bowler Corey Collymore. Let's not talk about Ambrose and Walsh.
A man much admired by Taylor, Collymore was prematurely discarded in 2007 by the West Indies selectors at age 29. The word at the time was that the selectors felt the Barbadian wasn't penetrative enough. Backed by the strength of hindsight, I have to say the selectors made a terrible mistake.
Part of the difficulty is that in the Caribbean, fans, selectors and coaches seem to be always expecting their seam bowlers to be striving for pace. Too often, the old reliable line and length gets thrown out in the wash.
To be fair, Taylor, who turns 30 in less than two weeks, could have used somebody rushing through at 90 miles an hour and more at the other end. The Kemar Roach of two or three years ago would have provided that.
However, just back from a serious shoulder injury, Roach hardly rose above medium pace and seemed to lack rhythm and confidence.
The available evidence suggests that the selectors should have avoided the temptation to rush Roach back into Test cricket. That said, the 25-year-old Barbadian may yet prove me a fool by wrecking New Zealand's batting. Perhaps in the second innings? West Indians will be hoping so.