Ross Taylor unfazed by New Zealand’s troubles

New Zealand’s lead-up to the World Cup may be besieged by distractions, but Ross Taylor’s says his primary concern before the start of the World Cup is, “rectifying his poor form, and winning a lot more games for the team”.

In addition to the team’s recent barren run in one-day cricket in the subcontinent, New Zealand have also had to deal with off-field controversies, but Taylor said the team was not affected by issues around them.

“Both the incidents [Jesse Ryder's tweet and Tim Southee's in-flight controversy] were blown out of proportion,” Taylor told ESPNcricinfo. “There are various distractions on and off the field, but you just have to get on and do what you do best, which is play the game of cricket. That’s what the team are doing, and these distractions won’t interfere with the way we play.”

New Zealand had experimented with their batting order in the series against Pakistan, pushing Brendon McCullum down the order without much success. Taylor revealed that the plan had been shelved, and that New Zealand will begin the World Cup with the top six that faced Ireland in their warm-up game, with McCullum and Martin Guptill opening the batting, and Ryder slotting in at No. 3. “The top six won’t change,” he said. “That [the line-up that faced Ireland] is the order that we will be playing in the World Cup.”

New Zealand were made to sweat before beating Ireland, after Guptill’s century lifted them to 311. Ireland got within 32 runs of the target, but Taylor chose to dwell on the positives. “Any time you score over 300, you are very happy with that,” he said. “We did not bowl as well as we would have liked. The wicket [at the VCA Stadium Nagpur] was very good. But we know there’s a long way to go.”

Taylor admitted that the inability of the batsmen to convert starts was an area of concern, but indicated that the side was turning the corner in that regard.

“We have shown in the last two games we played, we have scored two hundreds [Ryder scored a hundred in the final one-dayer against Pakistan, before Guptill's ton in the warm-up game] and gone on to win the games. Going on to get those three-figures is going to be very important leading into the tournament. If we can get someone to score 100 in every match then we are going along well towards posting a good total, or chasing down a total as well.”

The World Cup will be Daniel Vettori’s final assignment as the captain of the side. Taylor, who has led the side in Vettori’s absence, is widely tipped to take over the reins, but he is conscious not to look that far ahead. “After the World Cup, the selectors, and the NZC will choose who they think is fit to do the job, and that’s out of my hands,” he said. “I am not focussed on that at all, I am just looking forward to the World Cup and scoring runs.”

New Zealand have traditionally punched above their weight in World Cups, having made the semi-finals three times in the last five editions. Taylor cautioned the more fancied teams to expect another strong show from his side, despite their indifferent lead-up to the event. “We have not been playing as well as we like in recent times,” he said. “We know that [after the first round], it is a knockout format and we enjoy it. We just need to get through the pool stage and then we are just two wins away from the final. So our focus is to do well in the pool stages and once you make the quarters anything can happen.”


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