James Taylor Tour Diary: England Lions Playing Catch Up

Featured News | 20th February 2013

Nottinghamshire batsman James Taylor shares his thoughts on the England Lions series against Australia A in his All Out Cricket magazine Blog.

England Lions captain James Taylor says his side can fight back in their ‘ODI’ series against Australia A, despite a testing start to the tour that sees them 2-0 down with three matches to play.

I’ve captained the England Lions for the last two years and I was going to hand over the reins this time round but when Joe Root got called up to the full squad I got the opportunity to do it again and it’s something I really enjoy.

I love the added responsibility and pressure on my shoulders and I do my best to lead by example, especially with the bat in hand.

I enjoy a challenge and this tour has certainly been a challenge so far against very, very good opposition. A tour like this is really important to get players used to these kind of conditions and to help us develop our skills, especially with back-to-back Ashes series coming up and the World Cup being hosted here in 2015, but as captain my aim first and foremost is to go out there and win games. Obviously we haven’t had an ideal start and things haven’t gone exactly to plan but we’ve still got three games left in the series to fight back hard and turn things round.

We’ve got a slightly less experienced side than we’d usually have because some players we’ve had on tour with us in the past like Jos Buttler, James Harris and Jonny Bairstow are with the full squad across the Tasman in New Zealand but it’s great to see those players break into the senior side and it gives a new batch of young players the opportunity to impress.

By contrast, we’ve come up against a very experienced Australia A side; plenty of them are in their mid-to-late Twenties and several of them have full international caps. They’ve been the better side so far but there’s still time to fix that.

One big positive of the tour so far has been the form of Varun Chopra, who’s hit two centuries; one in the warm-up defeat to a Victorian XI and then in the first ‘ODI’ in Hobart. On both occasions he set a really good platform, which we were able to build on, but each time the Aussies managed to chase down their target. Ben Foakes has had a couple of good knocks too, but on the bowling front we haven’t been fortunate enough to pick up many wickets. I’m happy enough with my own form with the bat. I’m hitting the ball okay, not at my best, but I’ve got a couple of starts and a couple of scores [102 in the warm-up fixture against Victorian XI and 79 in the second ‘ODI’ in Hobart].

The tracks out here have been okay but a bit a slow, particularly the last couple we’ve played on. They’ve been hard to time the ball consistently on. It’s been tough batting first – as we’ve done in four of our five matches so far – because it’s done a bit first up and then flattened out in the afternoon session, so it’s been harder for our bowlers. The switch from 40-over cricket, which we play back in England in the CB40, to 50 overs has taken some adjustment too; especially with a new ball from each end and 10.30am starts, it makes things quite a lot harder.

Stuart Meaker and Alex Hales have joined up with us for the rest of the series and they are just the types of players we need to turn things round and hopefully they can have a big impact. They will definitely add strength and depth to both our batting and bowling and Hales has obviously done well in Twenty20 of late for England and in the Big Bash too, so let’s hope he can bring that form into our series. It’s still all to play for.

Away from the cricket we’ve enjoyed the fine dining on offer and had the chance to go and test out different restaurants. The lads loved Melbourne in particular. It’s a really buzzing city and there’s lots going on. Hobart is a bit quieter; it’s more like an old-school British seaside town like Scarborough. We’ve got one more match here and then it’s off to Sydney for the final two fixtures, finishing up with a day/nighter at the SCG.

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