WELLINGTON: Injured Black Cap Ross Taylor said on Thursday he was desperate to play in the ODI series decider against England, as pundits declared his unbeaten 181 the greatest-ever limited-overs innings by a Kiwi batsman.
Taylor overcame cramps and a severe thigh strain to bludgeon New Zealand to victory with a career-best performance in the fourth ODI in Hamilton on Wednesday.
Grimacing with pain after every shot and limping between the wickets, he levelled the series 2-2 to set up a winner-takes-all clash in Christchurch on Saturday.
Coach Mike Hesson was reluctant to risk Taylor in the crunch match if there was risk of long-term injury, and has called in rookie Mark Chapman as cover.
“We need to know the extent of it and whether it’s one of those injuries that can get worse, or whether you can grin and bear it, we’re just not sure yet,” Hesson told reporters.
Taylor said he was keen to play and would be icing his injured thigh and resting with the intention of taking the field even if not fully fit.
“I’m hoping to,” he told Radio Sport. “Obviously I won’t be 100% but we’ll just see how it pulls up in the next couple of days and give it the best chance possible.”
Taylor hurt his thigh earlier in the series then aggravated it diving to avoid a run out as New Zealand chased England’s challenging target of 336.
The 34-year-old’s 181 not out was his 19th ODI century and the third highest score by a New Zealander in the 50-over format.
But Dominion Post cricket writer Mark Geenty said the context and manner of Taylor’s knock made it a standout contender for New Zealand’s greatest ODI innings.
Aside from Taylor’s injury, he pointed out that New Zealand were chasing a huge total against quality opposition to keep the series alive, and had lost their two openers for ducks.
“Taylor wins. No decision review system required,” he wrote.
Radio New Zealand’s Jamie Wall hailed “Ross the Boss” as one of the Black Caps’ all-time greats.
“It was the most definitive statement by Taylor that he is very much in contention for the title of New Zealand’s greatest batsman ever,” he wrote.