Debut would be early birthday gift for Taylor

Ross Taylor will complete a lifetime ambition and claim an early birthday present if he becomes the BLACKCAPS’ latest One-Day International player against the West Indies at Napier’s McLean Park.

The State Central Stags batsman came into the squad for the final two National Bank Series ODI games with the BLACKCAPS keen to convert their 3-0 victory into a clean sweep of all five matches.

Taylor, who turns 22 on March 8, effectively replaced provincial colleague and BLACKCAPS opener Jamie How, but is unlikely to top the order if selected in Napier – home turf for the CD man.

He is full of confidence after topping the State Shield run aggregates with 603 in 11 innings, at an outstanding average of 67, but conceded he was entering into unknown territory with his call up.

He said: “I’d always hoped to be called up but I didn’t really know what to expect.

“I’ve just been going through what I need, getting my gear sorted, doing media and so on. My phone’s been red hot with friends and family wishing me well.

“I’m just going to try and take the opportunity. You can only ever take it one game at a time and one series at a time. But I’m just new into international cricket and I’ve been offered the opportunity and I’ve got to take it.”

And the new boy admitted he was spending some rare moments away from cricket when he got the call from the BLACKCAPS selectors.

It was fitting Taylor had been watching UB40, one of reggae music’s biggest names, at New Plymouth on Saturday when he heard he was going to take on the Caribbean’s finest.

He revealed: “I was at the concert I couldn’t here so afterwards I checked my phone and there was a message saying I’d been picked.

“Some of their songs were made before I was born, but I like them so it was it wasn’t a bad couple of hours!”

The call-up received the backing of Stags coach Graham Barlow, despite depriving him of his star batting performer of the season.

He said: “It’s brilliant for him. He’s been doing the business all season. Three hundreds and three fifties in the State Shield says it all.”

Taylor has also shown his off-break skills this season, providing Stephen Fleming with another slow-bowling option.

His addition could influence which specialist bowlers are picked in the BLACKCAPS’ attack for the seamer-friendly Napier track, especially if the recalled Kyle Mills returns to the side.

For the tourists, all-rounder Dwayne Bravo is likely to miss the final two ODIs and look to recover from his side strain ahead of the Test series, starting March 9.

BLACKCAPS: Nathan Astle, Shane Bond, Stephen Fleming (captain), Peter Fulton, Brendon McCullum, Hamish Marshall, Michael Mason, Kyle Mills, Jeetan Patel, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori, Lou Vincent.

West Indies (from): Shivnarine Chanderpaul (captain), Chris Gayle, Daren Ganga, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Runako Morton, Wavell Hinds, Dwayne Smith, Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Ian Bradshaw, Jerome Taylor, Fidel Edwards, Rawl Lewis, Deighton Butler.

BLACKCAPS v West Indies, National Bank Series 3rd ODI, McLean Park, Napier, March 1 (10.30am)

For ticket information for The National Bank Series, or call 0508 Cricket.

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