During two days of fairly low scoring in the Third Test match between Pakistan and England in Sharjah, it is James Taylor who has emerged as the saviour of the English team in the first innings with Joe Root departing cheaply for just four runs and Alastair Cook amassing 49 before being dismissed. Taylor remains unbeaten on 74 with Johnny Bairstow also providing valuable support on 37 not out as England ended the second day 12 runs adrift of the Pakistan first innings total of 234 but with the loss of just four wickets.
Taylor has been selected for the Third Test following the omission of wicket keeper Jos Buttler due to his poor form with the bat, but it is a surprise that Taylor has waited such a long period since his previous innings as a test batsman. The Nottinghamshire cricketer has participated in limited overs cricket at an international level but featured in his only two test matches when playing twice against South Africa in 2012. He was 22 years old at the time and scored 34 runs in his best innings but was ignored thereafter by the selectors until the current test match series.
However, 991 runs accumulated in 21 innings for Nottinghamshire during the 2015 County Championship, including one score of 291, have clearly been noted by the English test selectors as they strive to add consistency into the batting line-up with Taylor chosen as number five batsman for this match. Adam Lyth had failed to inspire confidence as an opening batsman during the summer Ashes series with Ian Bell also struggling for runs, and so allowing Moeen Ali to continue in the number two role with Taylor employed as a middle order batsmen appeared a rather strange decision.
Ali was dismissed for 14 runs to follow his previous failures in that position while Taylor has appeared comfortable on a pitch offering movement and turn, and which is generally viewed as a real help for the bowlers. Taylor has already surpassed the score of 71 accumulated by Misbah ul Haq in the Pakistan first innings, which was almost double the total of any of his team mates as they struggled to cope with the bowling of James Anderson in particular.
As Taylor and Bairstow prepare for the third day, they will hope to extend their current partnership of 83 runs and they are likely to be followed to the crease by another recalled Nottinghamshire player Samit Patel, who has also not played test match cricket for three years despite several international one day caps. With Ben Stokes rated as a doubtful batsman in this innings and probably the rest of the match due to a shoulder injury, a steady accumulation of runs will be required from the remaining England batsmen to provide any hope of squaring the current test series.