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Born March 8, 1984, Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote Taylor is a former captain of New Zealand cricket team in Tests, ODIs and T20Is as well as at Under-19 level. Taylor, who made ODI debut at 22, has been one of the pillars of the Black Caps for a very long time. ‘Rosco’, as he is called by his friends and family (and fans, of course), is the fourth-highest run- scorer for New Zealand behind Steven Fleming, Nathan Astle and Brendon McCullum at the time of writing this article. He is widely known for his slog sweep and lofted flick, shots he has made of his own over the years. On his 34th birthday, Sakshi Gupta brings you 12 lesser-known facts about the talented cricketer.

1. Samoan Heritage

Taylor is of part Samoan-decent, his mother Ann hailing from Samoa and his father Neil from New Zealand. He became the second cricketer of the Samoan Heritage after Murphy Su’a. However, he is the first Samoan to captain a Black Caps side. Taylor was appointed captain of the Black Caps in 2011, after Daniel Vettori stepped down.

2. Ross Luteru Taylor

Although his full name is Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote Taylor, a couple of sources have his name as Ross Luteru Taylor in their record because Taylor grew up answering to both Luteru and Ross when playing cricket. He did not realise he needed to write down his full name for the official New Zealand Cricket records when he was asked to fill in a questionnaire at a First-Class match early in his career.

3. Family

Taylor married Victoria Brown, a left-handed batsman and off-spinner who played for Northern Districts, on June 25, 2011. At that point Victoria had quit cricket to become a school-teacher. They have a daughter Mackenzie (born September 24, 2011) and a son Jonty (born February 16, 2014).

4. The tongue celebration

Taylor has now made it a habit by sticking his tongue out while celebrating a ton. He finally explained the reason behind it. He has continued with the same celebration since Mackenzie and Jonty enjoy watching dear daddy doing that. When Taylor scored a double-ton against Australia at Perth in 2015, he stuck his tongue out twice, on reaching his ton and double-ton; he jokingly admitted that his daughter Mackenzie was a little confused by him doing it twice on one day.

5. Hockey and slog sweep shot

Taylor was a hockey player before cricket struck him. Martin Crowe had mentioned Taylor’s passion for hockey during the winter months. And hockey has helped him in mastering the slog-sweep shot; it came naturally for him hitting on the leg side.

6. Under-19 captaincy

Taylor was the 14th Under-19 skipper of New Zealand, who led them from 2000-01 in six matches. He had a 50 per cent record by winning and losing three each.

7. Plunderer

Taylor’s most celebrated knock came in World Cup 2011, against Pakistan at Pallekele. He was batting calmly, on 69 from 108 balls with 4 fours. The next 16 balls fetched him 62, with 4 fours and 7 sixes. This included a 28-run over from Shoaib Akhtar and a 30-run over from Abdul Razzaq. The innings earned him the moniker of Pallekele Plunderer. Interestingly, he played that blitz on his 27th birthday.

8. Dream job

During IPL 2012, Taylor had admitted about always wanting to be a farmer.

9. Fried food

Taylor grew up in Lower Hut, where there were no McDonald’s. A dinner treat almost always meant a trip to KFC. His love for fried chicken went back to his childhood. Taylor has admitted that he had to cheat meals numerous times, hiding from his fitness trainer.

10. Dehydration after maiden ton

Rosco smashed his maiden ODI ton on December 28, 2006, against Sri Lanka at Napier. He scored an unbeaten 128 off 133 balls in the first innings. Unfortunately, New Zealand lost that match, and Taylor suffered from dehydration; he required a short hospital trip during the second innings.

11. Decision to quit

Crowe, in one of his columns after Taylor’s maiden double-ton, had revealed that Taylor had called him on to say that he was “packing in playing cricket.” New Zealand Cricket sacked him as the national skipper after the Sri Lanka tour of 2012. He was on a low, not as much for being sacked but for the manner in which NZC sacked him.

12. Eye surgery

Taylor underwent an eye surgery in 2016 December. He returned as a much better player in both Tests and ODIs.

14. Most hundreds by a Black Cap

Taylor has scored 17 Test hundreds and 19 ODI hundreds. His 19 ODI hundreds are the most by a New Zealander, while in Tests he is tied with Kane Williamson and Crowe for most hundreds by a Kiwi.

A day before he turned 34, Taylor slammed a 181* against England at Dunedin to help New Zealand chase down 336 against England. The knock will be remembered as one of the finest in ODI cricket.

(Sakshi Gupta, a former reporter with CricketCountry, is a sports fanatic whose mantra in life is “do only what you enjoy.” Her Twitter handle is @sakshi2929)