Ross Taylor in two-horse race for Crowe's record

ANDY FYERS
Last updated 05:00 17/06/2014
Ross taylor
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BLAZING BAT: Ross Taylor pulls the ball away for four runs.

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Some commenters on last Friday's blog about Kane Williamson's chances of overtaking Martin Crowe as New Zealand's most prolific test batsman rightly pointed out that the comparison made no mention of Ross Taylor. 

So, in the interests of balance, today we take a look at Taylor and his chances of overtaking Crowe's New Zealand record of 17 test centuries and whether he might be the player who holds the mantle and not Williamson. 

The first thing to consider is Taylor's current record. 

Taylor is just past his 30th birthday, has been on the international scene for six and a half years, played 55 tests and scored 11 centuries. 

Much like Williamson, Taylor's form has been trending upwards since the beginning of 2013. 

Prior to the second test against Sri Lanka in 2012 (a test which was controversially also his last as captain) Taylor's record read: 42 tests, seven centuries with an average of 41.80. 

In the 13 tests he has featured in since he has scored a further four centuries and boosted his overall average to 46.51. 

So what are Taylor's chances of going past Crowe in the century stakes?

Like Williamson this depends on form, fitness, longevity and fixtures. 

Because Taylor is further into his career than Williamson it's easier to predict ceiling for his form and it's probable that, at 30, he's playing somewhere close to his best at the moment. 

A century every 3.25 tests in his past 13 tests is a strong return and it's possible he could continue at something like that rate for another two or three years, or about 16-30 tests. 

Past that it's likely Taylor, like most players, will see a dip in output towards the end of his career or suffer a temporary loss of form at some stage. Therefore an average of a century every four tests is probably a ceiling for Taylor over the remainder of his career. 

Worst case scenario, his form falls away sooner than expected and he returns a century once every 5.5 tests.

The next factor is how many more years he plays for. Taylor is only into his seventh year of international cricket so it's not unreasonable to think he will play for another three and a half years as an absolute minimum. On the upside he could play for another seven years if his body and form hold up. 

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As for the number of games he will play per anum for the remainder of his career, so far he has played about 8.5 tests per year. So let's say his best case scenario is nine tests per year. 

Given the Future Tours Programme is guaranteed through to 2020 the only factor (other than form) likely to impact on his appearance rate is injury, so in a worst case scenario he might suffer injury problems as he ages and feature in only six tests per year.

So if all the worst case scenarios eventuate Taylor would play another 21 tests in three and a half seasons and score a century every 5.5 tests for a total of about another four  centuries, taking his career tally to 15. 

On the upside he plays for another seven years, with nine tests per year, for another 63 tests. With a century every four tests he would score another 16 centuries and finish with 27. 

Again both these scenarios probably lean a little bit far on the extremes of luck and form, but his most probable output lies somewhere in the middle of this range. 

It is not unreasonable to expect Taylor to play eight tests per year for another five years and score a century once every 4.5 tests. In this scenario Taylor notches up about another nine centuries and finishes his career with a new all-time New Zealand record of 19. 

On balance Taylor is probably a pretty good chance of overtaking Crowe before he is done and Williamson is in turn a pretty good chance of overtaking Taylor. 

Ultimately only time, form and fitness will tell. 

- Stuff

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