By Nick Mulvenney
(Reuters) – They say a week is a long time in politics but you need only ask Ross Taylor how much can change over a similar period in cricket after he hit a magnificent 290 in the second test against Australia on Monday.
Seven days before his epic knock lit up the WACA, Taylor had been among New Zealand’s more disappointing performers as the tourists slumped to a 208-run defeat in Brisbane to go 1-0 down in the three-match series.
Looking sluggish with no sign of the aggression that once typified his batting, the 31-year-old managed to contribute only a seven-ball duck and a 26 to his team’s paltry tallies.
“I was pretty rusty and all over the show up there,” Taylor admitted to ABC radio before the start of play on Monday.
“It played a little bit on my mind, you start questioning yourself, little doubts start creeping into your mind.
“It was nice to get rid of those.”
Taylor did more than banish the doubts over more than nine hours at the crease, he smashed them out of sight in the same manner he pummelled some of his 43 fours to the boundary ropes.
The righthander did a fair bit of damage to a few records too, most notably ending Englishman Tip Foster’s 112-year reign as the highest scoring visiting batsman in Australia.
Only Len Hutton, who scored 364 for England at Lord’s in 1938, has racked up more runs against Australia in 138 years of test cricket.
Although the second test had become something of a run-fest, there were more than a few challenges to overcome in such a long innings, not least the searing Perth heat.
There was also Australia’s Mitchell Starc, who fired a yorker that was clocked at 160.4 kilometres per hour at Taylor on Sunday.
It was the fastest ball ever recorded in a test match but Taylor dug it out and resumed his innings.
Taylor had managed only one half century in eight innings this year before he began his mighty WACA innings, a far cry from his pomp of 2013 when he scored three straight centuries against West Indies.
He admitted he was “undercooked” going into the Gabba test after being sidelined for six weeks by a nasty injury to his testicles he sustained in the nets in Zimbabwe in August.
It was more a change in approach that sparked the turnaround in his fortunes this week, however.
“I felt I just needed to get back in the groove,” Taylor added.
“You can either graft it out or go out and play your shots and (the latter) probably comes more natural to me.
“It’s surprising what happens when you hit a couple off the middle, the feet start moving and the confidence comes flooding back.”
Taylor celebrated both his century and double century by sticking his tongue out in a message to his daughter who, he admitted, had been a little confused by him doing it twice on one day.
She was spared further confusion on Monday when Taylor was caught in the deep 10 runs from a third celebration but that will not detract from what Black Caps batting coach Craig McMillan described as “one of New Zealand’s best test knocks”.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)