Black Caps stars Will Young and Ross Taylor, who have family links to Wairarapa, were part of the squad that won the inaugural cricket World Test Championship. PHOTOS/JOHN LAZO-RON
Taylor keen to share the spoils
Black Caps star Ross Taylor has been one of the most recognisable players in world cricket for more than a decade, but he hasn’t forgotten his roots, JOHN LAZO-RON reports.
World test cricket champions the Black Caps have been bowling people over with their national mace tour, giving fans a chance to get a glimpse and a pic of the prestigious silverware.
The Black Caps won the inaugural World Test Championship final in June, toppling favourites India by eight wickets in a heavily rain-interrupted match in Southampton, England.
The mace tour reached Wellington last Friday, and Masterton’s very own Ross Taylor, who hit the winning runs on that day, was right there to greet them.
Taylor said doing the tour was the Black Caps way of saying thank you to Aotearoa for their support during their title campaign.
“Doing this tour has been fantastic,” Taylor said.
“It’s nice to thank the public of New Zealand for their support over the years and show it to them in such a way. It’s also a nice way of showing the next generation and inspiring them to play cricket and hopefully win it again in the years to come.”
It was fitting that Taylor hit the winning runs to firmly put the mace in New Zealand’s hands and do it with captain Kane Williamson. However, Taylor said he initially felt more relief than joy when the historic moment occurred when asked how he felt out in the middle at the time.
“It was a strange feeling because it was almost relief more than anything, to be honest. You’re entrenched in the moment of the game, so it’s almost relief once you get there because it was a big pressure situation,” he said.
“I suppose the worst-case scenario was a draw. Even on that last day, the most realistic result was going to be a draw, so it was nice to have pulled that out of the bag and actually win the game.”
You can understand why Taylor felt that relief after having gone through so many close world title encounters.
Taylor was part of the Black Caps side that suffered a heartbreaking loss to England in the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
New Zealand drew level with the English on that day but lost the match on boundary count. After that match, Taylor admitted he thought a world title was out of his reach.
“Yeah, I didn’t think [a world title opportunity] would happen again, so to play in a final and then to win it was amazing, so that was a big honour and relief for me.”
A product of Lansdowne Cricket Club, Taylor said he planned, alongside New Zealand Cricket, to bring the mace to Wairarapa as part of an East Coast tour to thank those from the region who supported him throughout his career.
“I’m looking forward, with New Zealand Cricket, to bring the mace to Wairarapa and the East Coast in time,” he said.
“Obviously couldn’t do it on this tour, but should be able to do that in the coming months, so that’ll be exciting.
“We had a few Wairarapa people who came to Palmerston North and Wellington to see this mace, so it will be nice for them to celebrate with us right there and hopefully get a photo and also a chance for me to thank the people of Wairarapa who have supported me over the years as well.”
Black Caps up-and-coming star Will Young, also in Wellington for the tour, has his own links to Wairarapa.
Young’s mother, his grandfather and two of his uncles went to Wairarapa College. His grandad and one of his uncles still live in Masterton.
While Young did not play in the final, he was part of the strong Black Caps test championship squad and is undoubtedly a star in the making.
Young said he felt honoured to be part of this side that has made New Zealand sporting history, but cricket history itself.
“I feel very privileged and lucky to be part of such a successful Black Caps team,” he said.
“I know I haven’t played as much as these other guys, but it’s awesome to have been over there and be part of it all and experience what it’s like to win a world championship for your country.”
Young praised Taylor for the support and guidance he had shown him over the years, not only on the national side but also domestically.
“It’s been good. I do have to put up with his jokes, but Ross has been awesome to me,” he said.
“Even as a youngster coming into the CD [Central Districts] side nine or 10 years ago, he’s always been there offering advice and been a mentor figure for me, and now joining him in the Black Caps is really cool.”
One of the big questions about Taylor, now that he has achieved a world title is when will he give up the gloves and bat?
Taylor said he still had a bit of cricket left in him, and was not ready to retire yet, which he reiterated on Friday.
“I’m just trying to get through this summer, and we’ll see how we go from there.”