At least one Bajan is happy to see Jerome Taylor back.
The long-awaited return couldn’t come any sooner for Ottis Gibson, with the West Indies head coach all but ready to get Taylor back into the fold after arguing his inclusion should give the regional side a truly world-class attack.
Gibson made the remarks during the second round of the Garfield Sobers Golf Championships in the wake of the Jamaican pacer’s regional comeback after a near three-year hiatus from the game.
“Spin dominated the bowling again in regional cricket so it was good to see Jerome Taylor back on the park as his coming back into cricket is obviously a big plus for us with Kemar Roach out with an injury,” reasoned Gibson.
“Hopefully Kemar will be okay as well and then that gives us a really strong fast-bowling line-up to choose from. Then we still have Shane [Shillingford], Sunil Narine, and now Sulieman Benn is bowling very well again this season so it looks like we can choose a really quality bowling attack.
“We just need to get the batters firing as well, and once we get all those things in place then we will have a really good showing against New Zealand,” he added.
It was a very strong show of support for a fast bowler who hasn’t played for the Windies since the 2010 home series against South Africa while battling a chronic spine injury.
But there were some questions over Taylor’s commitment to the game, with former West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) chief executive officer Ernest Hilaire citing an “indifference towards the WICB medical programmes”.
The 29-year-old quickly dismissed those comments though, saying he travelled to the United States for strength training and has completely recovered since 2012 despite not playing for Jamaica during that span.
However, all seems well with Taylor now, with the once promising Windies spearhead bowler finally returning to action for Jamaica in the Nagico Super50 earlier this year before leading all but one fast bowler (Windwards’ Kenroy Peters) in wickets taken at the just-concluded four-day tournament.
In eight matches overall, Taylor finished as the tenth-best wicket taker with 25 scalps at an average of 25.58 that featured a best of five for 48.
His wasn’t the only performance that pleased Gibson though, as the competition featured a number of centuries from young up-and-coming players, including maiden tons from lower order Bajan all-rounders Carlos Brathwaite and Ashley Nurse.
“It’s good to see a lot of hundreds coming from a lot of places because that’s indicative of good batsmanship in the region and that’s what’s required at the next level,” said Gibson.
“We haven’t performed well as a batting group recently in Test cricket and we need to look at that. Plus, when last we went to New Zealand we let ourselves down a bit especially in that aspect, so I think on our home patch now it’s important that we show that what happened there is not the way we want to play cricket.
“But I’ve had several meetings with [director of cricket] Richard Pybus and he’s got a clear idea where he wants to take the cricket,” he added.
The Windies are set to face New Zealand in a three-Test series starting June 8, ironically in Taylor’s homeland of Jamaica.