Under-pressure New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor has been backed by his coach as he takes the field today under the most scrutiny of his short captaincy career.
Taylor leads the Black Caps out against India in today's second test in Bangalore with both he and the team in desperate need of a morale-boosting performance after three consecutive losses.
For the captain, the innings-and-115-run defeat in the first test in Hyderabad was particularly galling as he contributed two and seven with the bat and continued some worrying fielding lapses which have crept into his game.
New coach Mike Hesson said he continued to back Taylor 100 per cent.
“We've just had one test where we've worked together and I thought Ross did a very good job in the last test and we're building that relationship," Hesson said.
"It's important for Ross that he keeps performing with the bat and he's well aware of that. He's fiercely determined to do that and he can also lead through his actions and he's certainly doing that this week."
While Taylor was previous coach John Wright's choice to succeed Daniel Vettori, Hesson's arrival for the tour of India added an intriguing subplot.
With Hesson having forged a close relationship with Taylor's deputy Brendon McCullum at Otago, it was a potentially tricky situation, and one which Taylor felt the need to raise with his coach in their first conversation.
Hesson gave Taylor his seal of approval, but whether the situation still made Taylor uneasy in the first post-Wright test in Hyderabad is unknown.
When asked if Taylor was feeling any extra pressure, Hesson said: “That's a question you'd need to ask Ross. I thought he did a very good job from the captaincy point of view in the last game.
"He wasn't able to score runs himself but it wasn't very long ago that he was in very good form in the first test in the West Indies. Ross has worked very hard this week and is fiercely determined to make a major contribution."
Taylor scored 45, 21, 60 and 0 in the two tests in the Caribbean.
The 28-year-old's captaincy record from 10 tests stands at three wins - one against Australia and two against Zimbabwe - and five defeats.
His batting average as skipper is 43.73, compared to an overall average of 41.69 from 40 tests.
To Taylor's credit, he has shown fighting qualities under pressure.
After the first test debacle in Brisbane in December, he scored a vital half-century on a seaming pitch in Hobart and ushered in a memorable victory.
Then, in March, his arm was broken by a Morne Morkel thunderbolt and after having surgery he drove to the Basin Reserve intending to bat if required as New Zealand fought to save the test against South Africa.
Some more of that is required in Bangalore as New Zealand desperately seek a creditable showing.
Runs from Taylor, their key batsman at No 4, and a fighting performance from the team are badly needed.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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