Ahead of England’s two-Test series against New Zealand, fast bowler Ollie Robinson has detailed several plans to deal with Kane Williamson. But Ross Taylor downplayed Robinson’s assertions, saying that “a lot of teams” have tried to work Williamson out, but his record shows how successfully he had countered those plans.
“Swinging it away from him, setting him up, pulling him across the crease and then using the crease with the nipbacker to get him lbw looks like a solid option,” Robinson had said. “That will be Plan A, but if he gets a few more we have got a few Plans Bs and Cs in the background.”
When asked if Plans A, B and C were enough for someone of Williamson’s calibre, Taylor countered with, “D, E, F… there’s always going to be a few plans for everybody. Some work, some haven’t. Kane’s got a fantastic record all over the world.”
Taylor had played alongside Robinson in 2016 for Sussex. “He’s a very good bowler and has a very good record,” Taylor said. “I guess everyone’s a little bit different in their way, whether you want to tell people your game plan or keep it to yourself… But Kane’s an experienced campaigner and a lot of teams have tried to work him out. We, as a batting group, have to see what happens over the coming days. Ollie Robinson or whoever does play, we’re just going to have to be ready and waiting for that.”
Stuart Broad is another of England’s bowlers Taylor has played alongside in the County Championship, but the batter said that, unlike Robinson’s method, he wouldn’t reveal his plans against England’s bowlers.
“I’ll keep those to myself. I’m fortunate to play with him (Broad) at Middlesex (in 2019) and Notts (Nottinghamshire, in 2018),” Taylor said. “Saw the way he went about things and heard him talking to bowlers, and asked him a few questions. I wish I had that knowledge up my sleeve before a few more of those series. He’s got me out a few times as most bowlers have. He’s a very good bowler, with the rest of them. With the Dukes (ball) in hand, they’re world-class bowlers… I guess under any conditions.
“Not sure what England’s plans are in terms of rest and rotation, they’ve got a big summer ahead, so there’s been a bit of talk about rest and rotation. We’ll just have to wait and see who is playing on Wednesday morning.”
New Zealand will play the first Test at Lord’s from June 2, the venue of their heart-breaking World Cup final loss in 2019.
“I was sitting in the chair watching the Super Over, it brought back a few memories,” Taylor said. “But first and foremost, it was the best game of a World Cup final. Obviously, it was disappointing to be on the wrong end of that, (but) it was good to be a part of it. Different format now, a couple of new stands to add to it.”
Conway’s potential debut, and New Zealand’s preparations
Devon Conway has been among New Zealand’s fastest-rising stars and could make his Test debut after making a big start to his international white-ball career.
“He’s had a fantastic start to his career in T20s and one-dayers. Couldn’t think of a better place to make a debut than at Lord’s,” Taylor said. “He’s just going to get better and better with experience. I watched him in a first-class game from the first slip against Wellington, the last time I played for CD (Central Districts). He hits balls in different areas and plays it very late. One of his strengths is he’s very strong and he trusts his game-plan. If he does make his debut, I’m sure that how he’s taken to international cricket in the other two forms, he’ll do that again.”
The quarantine rules around Covid-19 have hampered New Zealand’s preparations, but Taylor was philosophical about the restrictions posed by the pandemic. “Yeah, we would have liked to be out on the grass a bit earlier in Southampton,” he said. “Obviously, we’re in a bubble and we don’t have the same access to the gym, but we’re all in the same boat when it comes to that. It’s just something we’ll have to manage in the coming weeks.
“The boys have hit a lot of balls, but indoors. From my first tour in 2008 to now, we must have played four or five warm-up games back then. But times have changed, and whether it’s England, series in Australia, and even in India – you don’t get much preparation and lead-in with so much cricket. I think a lot of experience has to come into it for the guys who have played here before. But the guys who haven’t, are asking their questions. I suppose there’s going to be a bit of a ‘feel’ period without having a game, but that’s no excuse. Whatever we do on Wednesday, we’re going to have to do well.
“It’s nice to get back to a little bit of normality, even though it’s a little different to what we’re used to. Hopefully, in time, there’ll be a few more tours, but Covid’s pretty rampant in a lot of countries. Just to be able to play cricket and there to be crowds… England played West Indies and Pakistan last year without any crowds. Even the thought of playing in front of 70% capacity in Edgbaston, it’s really good for players. Hopefully, there’ll be some atmosphere and some good cricket as well.”
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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