Short Trent Bridge boundary (and weather) on Ross Taylor’s mind

12-06-2019 16:06

It’s a well-known trope that English people always talk about the weather. But it dominated the discussion among Indians and New Zealanders ahead of what should be a highly-anticipated match between the only two undefeated sides remaining in the early stages of the World Cup.

After being confined to the Trent Bridge indoor nets for two days, New Zealand are keeping their selection cards close to their chest, likely to be influenced by how many overs they think might be played on Thursday. Repeated visits to the forecasting websites suggest there is anything from a 20 to 80% chance of rain at different stages. Make of that what you will.

“I said at the start of the tournament that luck is going to play a part,” Ross Taylor said, speaking before New Zealand’s final indoor training session. “With the weather, England is a beautiful place, but it’s not famous for good weather. In saying that, there’s still a long way to go in this tournament. I’m sure there’s going to be rained out games that could affect us along the way. We found that in Taunton, and there have been times where forecasts have been wrong as well. Hopefully, tomorrow is one.”

Taylor is no stranger to Trent Bridge after spending the 2018 season playing for Nottinghamshire. Stints at Sussex, Durham and this year at Middlesex means he is more familiar with the conditions than most.

“We had an outstanding summer last year, so there wasn’t a lot of rained out games,” Taylor said. “Traditionally, when you play here at county cricket, you play on either side. You don’t normally play on the middle [pitch], which is the same for internationals.

“It [Trent Bridge] is a great place to play cricket. Traditionally, it can favour the batters at times, but I’m sure that bowlers will be going to have a little bit there. It [the pitch] has been under the covers for two or three days and hasn’t seen the sun.”

While New Zealand have a fully fit squad to choose from, at least one change has been forced on India, with Shikhar Dhawan‘s thumb injury keeping him out for at least two matches. That leaves India without a left-right combination at the top order. New Zealand, conversely, have a number of combinations upon which they could settle.

“I haven’t been in the bowling meetings, but obviously Shikhar is a big loss to India,” Taylor said. “He plays very well at the ICC tournaments and has a very good record over here. He and Rohit Sharma have a very good partnership, and I think they complement each other well because they’re left and right-handed [batsmen respectively]. In terms of our line-up, I think we’ve had a similar balanced side for a long time, and when you do have a right-left hand combination, it does put pressure in different ways on the bowling opposition.

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“A lot of these grounds in the UK have a short boundary on one side, and if you’ve got two right-handers or two left-handers, you can’t exploit it as much, where obviously having the right- and left-hand [combination], and the communication becomes very important to target those short boundaries.

“As we see, it’s traditionally a short boundary here. If that is the case, then hopefully we can exploit it with the right-left-hander [combination], as I’m sure India and other teams that are playing here will try and do that.”

A fresh pitch is being used for this match, one that is closer to the midpoint between the two square boundaries than either of the two pitches that have been used so far in the tournament, although the Fox Road boundary (68 metres) is still shorter than the Bridgford Road boundary (74 metres). If the match is shortened and the T20 tactics come into play, Taylor believes the pressure could be on Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal to contain New Zealand’s power hitters.

“We’ve faced India a lot in recent times and had some success against them,” Taylor said. “Obviously, two world-class spinners on their day… We’ll have to wait and see what the wicket produces tomorrow.

“Some shorter boundaries, and sometimes that can play on the mind of the spinner, but as I said, with all the weather around and so much uncertainty, we’ll just have to wait and see. And I’m sure the team that adapts the best will probably get the right result.”

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