- South Africa in England 2012
Taylor fearless ahead of England debut
James Taylor is "relishing" the prospect of facing South Africa's bowling attack at Headingley having been called into the squad for the second Test - but is not taking his debut for granted.
Unless England change the balance of their side and play five bowlers, which is unlikely, Taylor will earn his first cap at No. 6 after Ravi Bopara became unavailable due to personal reasons shortly before the squad was named on Sunday morning.
Taylor, who has been captain of England Lions over the last two years and averages 61.60 from ten first-class matches for them, has long been earmarked as a Test batsman in waiting. But he had seemingly fallen down the pecking order at the start of this season after failing to secure a place in the extended England performance squad and Jonny Bairstow was chosen to replace an injured Bopara against West Indies.
However, Taylor led the Lions against the West Indians in May and scored an impressive century at Derby and this week hit his first Championship hundred for his new county, Nottinghamshire, against Sussex. It is actually Taylor's one-day form that has been more consistent and he has made 345 runs at 69 in the CB40.
"Facing South Africa's bowling attack is always going to be a tough challenge but it's something that I would relish because getting an England Test call has been my aim from the word go," he said. "Test cricket is the pinnacle but there was a noticeable step up to Division One of the Championship and wickets haven't been easy to bat on this season
"I've always backed myself to play at the highest level and even though I'm young I've played a lot of cricket and I've got a lot of runs behind me. The next goal is to get a place in the XI and if I get that opportunity I have to take it with both hands. If I get in the team then I have to work hard to get runs and then work harder again to do that consistently.
"I've always tried to keep my feet on the ground and strive to become a better player and that will always be my mantra."
Taylor's move from Leicestershire to Nottinghamshire for this season was with the aim of boosting his Test ambitions after getting a brief taste of international cricket last season against Ireland. He has now jumped back ahead of Bairstow while fighting off the challenge of Eoin Morgan and Nick Compton.
"I hoped that I would be next in line but I never took anything for granted although I have scored consistent runs in all forms of the game to earn this chance," he said. "Playing at Headingley would be a very proud moment for me but nothing has happened yet, I'm just one step closer and waiting for the nod and the opportunity to help England to get back into the series."