Ross Taylor goes into the first of two Tests against Bangladesh, starting Thursday, with a chance of equalling Martin Crowe’s record for most centuries by a New Zealander in the format.
Less than a year after Crowe died of lymphoma aged 53, Taylor’s bid, in his return following eye surgery in late November, has become a focal point for New Zealand cricket fans. “Even people in the supermarket come up and mention it,” said Taylor on Tuesday (January 10) ahead of the game at Wellington’s Basin Reserve.
Taylor, 32, has 16 centuries to his name while Crowe, who was a mentor and close friend to Taylor, has the New Zealand record with 17.
New Zealand won their first five Test series against Bangladesh, but drew their two Tests on tour in 2013, when Taylor posted his highest score yet against the team with an unbeaten 54 in the first game.
At Basin Reserve, Taylor averages a shade under 56, and has centuries against West Indies in 2013 and India in 2009.
In the last Test he played, in Hamilton in November against Pakistan, Taylor scored a century before having a small, benign growth removed from his left eye.
Batting second would be a preference at the green-topped Basin Reserve, which has a history of assisting fast bowlers early before flattening out. But Taylor said New Zealand cannot afford any complacency against Bangladesh, despite the opposition’s lack of match experience on green tracks.
“Over the last few years, they haven’t played a lot of Test cricket away from home, so it’s going to be difficult on that wicket,” he said. “(But) we can’t take them lightly and I’m sure their fast bowlers will be licking their lips. When there is a bit of green grass it brings the teams a bit closer together.”
The visiting side has lost all three One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals on tour so far, and the two Tests offer a chance for redemption.