Trevor Bayliss expects Ross Taylor to be fit to face England – and is hoping New Zealand’s resident match-winner does not get injured again in this weekend’s one-day international series decider.
The hosts are set to make a late decision on whether Taylor will be fit after aggravating his thigh injury during his brilliant, career-best 181 not out in Dunedin two days ago.
He hurt himself shortly after reaching his hundred in a terrific run chase as the Kiwis knocked off 335 for nine with three balls and five wickets to spare, to level the series at 2-2.
Taylor’s running between the wickets became severely restricted, but he responded with ever more towering big hits in a memorable victory.
England coach Bayliss has little doubt he will be back for Saturday’s showdown at the Hagley Oval.
“Definitely – that’s what we’re planning on,” he said.
“If he didn’t happen to play that would be a surprise.”
Taylor, who also hit a match-winning hundred in the series opener in his home town Hamilton, then had to miss the third match in Wellington before returning at the University Oval.
“Let’s hope he doesn’t get an injury, because he plays pretty well when he gets injured… ” added Bayliss, with a smile.
He was coy, though, when asked if England have worked out any new plans to try to keep Taylor quiet.
“It’s one of the things we’re going to chat about today at practice.
“I don’t want to give him any head-starts… he certainly doesn’t need it.”
England are on the brink of a sixth successive ODI series victory – a commanding statistic but one which had passed Bayliss by until his pre-match press conference.
“I never knew it would be the sixth in a row,” said the Australian, anxious nonetheless to see his team prove their mettle in a pressure situation to build confidence for next year’s home World Cup.
“These one-off matches, where it counts, it will be a good test for our guys – heading into that World Cup,” he added.
“The way we’ve been playing one-day cricket, and obviously playing at home, we should go into that tournament as one of the favourites.
“With that, it brings a little bit of extra pressure – having to win those one-off matches – so this is a good test.”
The pressure is largely of England’s own making, after they squandered a near impregnable position in Dunedin – by losing six wickets for 21 runs after Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root had powered them to 267 for one.
New Zealand, and Taylor especially, were therefore able to pounce.
Bayliss acknowledges the collapse was costly, but he was measured in his critique of what England insist was a “one-off” misfire from their middle-order big-hitters.
He said: “We certainly had a chat about it after the game…
“The seven or eight players in the team that can bat have all got a little bit of a different way of going about it – so (they need) just to make sure they’re true to themselves and play the best way for them.”