James Taylor looks to have jumped the head of the queue to join up with England as a potential replacement for Kevin Pietersen, after the latter limped out of fielding with a calf injury during the second Test. The ECB have requested the Nottinghamshire batsman is included in the Sussex line-up to play the Australians at Hove, where he could book his place in the squad for the remaining Ashes Tests.
The call-up queue had previously looked to include three other players who had tasted Test action for England in the past with Ravi Bopara, the recently deposed opener Nick Compton and Eoin Morgan all possibilities, alongside uncapped Yorkshire left-hander Gary Ballance.
Taylor’s first spell with the national side was short and far from sweet as he was dropped after just two Test matches in last year’s home series against South Africa, with an average of just 16 runs.
The other batsmen vying for a recall each boast a Test match batting average of just over 30 for their country, with Bopara edging out Compton by .01 of a run for top spot amongst the trio.
Each have had far more experience than the 23-year-old Nottingham right-hander – with Compton least tried of the three on nine Test matches – but none has truly staked his claim as a reliable incumbent of the England batting line-up.
Bopara and Morgan look to have little chance of inclusion; with both men recovering from injuries at present and Compton – having opened the batting in his most recent Test appearances – wouldn’t be an ideal fit in replacing Pietersen. The Somerset batsman would arguably be a somewhat defensive presence to play further down the order.
All of which suggests this may be the ideal opportunity to give Taylor his chance.
The Notts man has been in good form in county cricket, where he currently boasts the second-highest average amongst England-eligible batsmen playing in the top division, scoring 824 runs at an average of 58.85.
Australia have batted so poorly on the whole that their promising attack has not been enough to win them matches in the series and with some of their English counterparts equally unconvincing there will be few better times for the promising youngster to make a return to the line-up.
England are 8/11 to take the third Test at Old Trafford, where a win would clinch the series for the hosts. A victory would leave the last two Tests as prime candidates to hand Taylor a further taste of five-day cricket for his country.
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