Former New Zealand batter Ross Taylor is one of the modern-day greats and the star Kiwi player is currently in India to play Legends League Cricket. 2022 has been a significant year for him as he first bid farewell to international cricket and then he came up with his autobiography — Ross Taylor: Black And White. The batter, who would be playing for India Capitals in Legends League Cricket, spoke to NDTV about the chances of New Zealand and India at the T20 World Cup, the form of Virat Kohli, the impact of Rahul Dravid as a coach, and much more.
In his autobiography, Taylor revealed the experience of going to Ranthambore Forest to see a tiger along with Rahul Dravid when they were sharing the dressing room for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League. It was there where he came up with the line: “there are almost 4,000 wild tigers but there is only one Rahul Dravid,” so it is no surprise that Taylor had only good things to say about Dravid, who is now the head coach of Team India.
“Rahul Dravid is one of the nicest men I have met in cricket. I think in terms of Indian cricket, they are in very safe hands with Rahul Dravid. High integrity and great cricket knowledge and he knows what the modern player needs. With him at the wheel, there would be an ODI World Cup in India next year. They will definitely head into the tournament as one of the favourites,” said Taylor.
“When you have played 450 games for your country, there are stories to tell. I got approached to do it a long time ago, I really enjoyed it. In Black and White, I played for New Zealand in black and white. I come from a mixed background. My mother is a Samoan and my father is a Kiwi. I am going to tell my story in black and white and the writing is in black and white. That’s how I came about the title,” he stated further.
Virat Kohli broke his century drought this year as he scored a ton against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup, which was played in the T20 format. Before this, Virat had last registered the three-figure mark in November 2019. Taylor believes that Virat is peaking at the right time ahead of the World Cup.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing with Virat Kohli at RCB and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching his career as well. Players go through form drops and I don’t think enough has been made about COVID-19. COVID has impacted a lot of people in a lot of countries. Smith, and Williamson, had had their struggles during COVID. Everyone just puts it down to form, they are so used to them scoring runs but when players aren’t going to train as much or play as much cricket, they would not be able to get into the groove,” said Taylor.
“Him coming back into form is no surprise to me, it was just a matter of when he scored that ton. He is in great form at the moment and he is peaking at the right time ahead of the World Cup. I think he looks like he is in a good space, he is going to score a lot of hundreds in the coming years, I hope,” he added.
When asked about he sees New Zealand performing at the T20 World Cup set to be played in Australia, the 38-year-old said: “I think, everyone will talk about other nations and New Zealand just seem to make the semi-finals or the final. They have made it to the last four in the last few ICC tournaments, but still, experts don’t put New Zealand in there. The tournament in Australia would be totally different from UAE. The UAE was very toss dominated, most teams that won the toss won the game.”
“I think there would be a lot more skill involved in this World Cup. I think Australia being the home nation and defending champions, must go in as favourites. I think it is a pretty open World Cup, New Zealand will rely heavily on the top-order and our opening bowlers. India, the balance of their side is one of the best going around and the way they are playing at home in the last few games, would give them a lot of confidence heading into the World Cup,” he added.
Taylor while signing off also spoke about what he expects from Legends League, and he also gave his take on three New Zealand players — Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, and Jimmy Neesham opting out of central contracts to play domestic leagues. It is important to note that Colin de Grandhomme decided to retire from international cricket while the other two have opted out of the central New Zealand contracts list.
“I hope not in terms of more New Zealand players giving up central contracts. I hope international cricket is still a high priority. Each player has a different reason for making different decisions. Yeah, I think, the more and more these leagues come about, there has to be something that’s given and obviously, players, being able to choose where they can play, there has to be a call somewhere. I think international cricket would have to be the one to play fewer games to factor in all these games,” said Taylor.
Talking about Legends League, Taylor said: “Just good to be playing cricket again. But also, to play with players I have played a lot against. Gautam Gambhir, Mitchell Johnson, and Dinesh Ramdin, to share the dressing room with them and see how they go about things, is something I am looking forward to. Every time, you are a professional athlete, you never lose that competitive spirit. You have done something for so long, so it does not take you that long to get back into the groove. The only surprise for me is how good the bowlers are. Some of these fast bowlers retired a couple of years ago, but still, they are bowling really fast.”
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