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Jerome Taylor is perhaps best known as the man who made Ricky Ponting his bunny. With his return to national duty after a period of four years, Taylor could well reignite the spark that was so long missing in the West Indies pace attack. Shiamak Unwalla looks at the career of the man who dismissed Ponting nine times in 12 games.
It is said that the quality of a bowler can be gauged by the quality of the batsman he dismisses. If that is true, there would be few bowlers of a higher quality than Jerome Taylor. Having made his debut for West Indies in 2003, Taylor is now in his 11th year of international cricket — a fact that is rather surprising when one sees the number of matches he has played.
With merely 29 Tests and 66 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) under his belt, Taylor comes across as someone who has been grossly under-utilised. Quick, accurate and very difficult to get away, Taylor thrives in limited-overs cricket. In Tests, his records aren’t quite as good — an average of above 35 and a strike-rate of 60 are perhaps higher than he would like, but even then his ability to take wickets is evident.
Taylor is perhaps best remembered for his outstanding bowling in the ICC Champions Trophy 2006, when he took a hat-trick against Australia. The eventual champions were cruising at 214 for six chasing 234 when Taylor removed Michael Hussey and Brett Lee off the last two balls of the 48th over. With Australia needing 16 off the final over to win, Taylor then knocked over Brad Hogg off the first ball to get a hat-trick and virtually win the game for the West Indies. This after he had removed Ricky Ponting — who else? — for one.
At a time when West Indies are struggling to field more than one specialist fast bowler in their side, Taylor’s return would be more than welcome. He has the ability to lead an attack — something that Kemar Roach seems to lack — and under him, the West Indies bowling attack could prosper. Taylor has had a lot of match practise recently, and has been in good form for Jamaica in First-Class cricket.
If he can replicate that form against New Zealand in the on-going Test series, there is every chance that West Indies could hold their own at home. While he only took one wicket against the Kiwis in the first innings of the first Test at Jamaica, Taylor bowled well and was miserly. One feels that the West Indies are due for a change in their fortunes. A new captain and the return of their spearhead could well hasten that change.
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)
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