• Taylor comes out to bat for Hales

    James Taylor has backed teammate Alex Hales to bounce back in England’s final warm-up game against South Africa A in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.


    Hales came under scrutiny in the three-day match against a South African Invitational XI in Potchefstroom after he managed to score only 16 runs in his two innings. He was twice bowled by Junior Dala and seem to have a weakness against deliveries shaping into him.

    Taylor and Hales are county teammates at Nottinghamshire where the latter has managed a first-class average of 51 and 49 in each of the last two summers.

    ‘I know he’s going to be frustrated but it happens, it’s only one game and as an opener it’s a tough place to bat. You’re going to get those low scores but I’m sure he’ll bounce back,’ Taylor said of Hales.

    ‘He’s just played in the UAE – totally different conditions from here. Ideally you’d score a hundred in your first game but it doesn’t always work like that and I’m sure he’ll bounce back for the next game.’

    Taylor was speaking after England’s preparations for next week’s first Test were hit by the weather on the Highveld, with play halted only six minutes into the afternoon session by a spectacular electrical storm.

    ‘It has been a frustrating day,’ Taylor said. ‘The bowlers obviously wanted an extra couple of spells under their belts but, as you can see, the weather hasn’t allowed that. That is the way it is.

    ‘We are just trying to get prepared for the game against South Africa A now. Some of the guys would have liked to have scored more runs than they did but that is always the case.’

    Taylor acclimatised to South Africa conditions quickly, hitting a first-innings century before retiring to give his team-mates an opportunity.

    He shared stands of 99 and 195 with half-centurion Nick Compton and Ben Stokes, who blasted a blistering 158 off 131 balls to prove his fitness following a shoulder problem.

    It was the perfect start to the trip for Taylor as he aims to retain his place in the England XI for the Boxing Day Test against South Africa following his recall in United Arab Emirates.

    ‘I can’t complain,’ Taylor said. ‘It is always nice to score runs, no matter what opposition or what game you are playing in. Like I said, at this stage of the trip, the first week or so is about getting used to the conditions. The couple of hours I spent at the crease is going to work in my favour.

    ‘It has been a nice year and an enjoyable year in an England shirt for me. Hopefully that can continue. ‘It is obviously a massive test for me as an individual and the team as well. It doesn’t really get much bigger than that – a Boxing Day Test match against the best team in the world.

    ‘Hopefully this weather is not around when it comes to Boxing Day as it won’t be too pleasant, but I cannot wait to get going.’

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