Jerome Taylor: "I'm glad to be back in the fold of things"

Mon, Jun 9, '14

by MICHELLE MCDONALD

Michelle McDonald

Although the build-up has been on this being Chris Gayle’s 100th Test Match, it was Jerome Taylor who had spectators’ attention at Sabina Park today. Referred to as “special” by former Captain Brian Lara after Taylor’s dream international debut as a teenager in 2003, fans are hoping this will be a long tour of duty.

 

The West Indies fast bowler last played a Test Match in November 2009 and an ODI in June 2010 before being forced into rehabilitation to address a recurring back injury. Today he had spectators murmuring, this time with approval instead of concern.

 

The soon to be 30 year-old took the first wicket to fall on Day 1 of the first Test match against New Zealand. He ended with figures of 17-7-22-1 with an economy rate of 1.29. New Zealand closed on 240-2 leaving the West Indies facing a daunting task of taking eight more wickets. Speaking at the post-match press conference, Taylor promised that the players are all upbeat and optimistic about what Day 2 could bring. “It’s a five day game so we have four days to go. You come tomorrow and the day could turn,” Taylor said.

Eyebrows were first raised in 2013 when the St Elizabeth native was selected in the Jamaica squad to prepare for the 2014 50-over and regional tournaments. Passing all tests and getting the stamp of approval from head of the West Indies Cricket Board’s medical panel Dr Akshai Mansingh, this was Taylor’s first test to see if his body could withstand several rounds of 4-day cricket. Was he really ready this time?

Two Sagicor Super50 matches served as a warm up. Collecting 3 wickets in the second match, he then moved on to a five wicket haul in Jamaica’s first four-day match, thus announcing that indeed he possibly was. He ended the first class season with a total of 25 wickets at an average of 25.88 to finish with the 10th highest total.

Usually in situations of long absences due to injury, the mind has the most work to do. What did Jerome do to prepare for the possibility of this day? “I tried to do something that relaxes me and to find a way of taking all the pressure of myself. I would go to the park, limit all the things which might distract me and just try to do the right things at that particular time,” said Taylor. His past experience of playing at this level meant he was aware of what he had to do. He credited the management staff and captain of both the Jamaica and West Indies team for managing his physical situation well.

Taylor said that at the start of this Test match, the expectation was very high. “I know that I want to give a good account of myself and I am really truly happy with that,” he said with a pleased look. He thinks that his physical issues have reacted well to the work and stress it has been put under.

Cricket fans are hoping that his back continues to respond well to the rigours of International cricket resulting in more “special” performances to take him closer to 100 Test wickets. He needs 17 more. Could the end of this 3 Test series against New Zealand see Taylor celebrating that milestone? All eyes will continue to watch, expectantly. #NoPressure