Cricket: England v South Africa

Simon Hughes: Taylor will never forget this day

England's new number six was able to pass under the radar as Pietersen dazzled at the other end

Simon Hughes: Taylor will never forget this day

It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like for James Taylor on his Test debut playing against the world-class South African bowlers and watching Pietersen's fireworks display from the other end.

The mind boggles at what they must have said in their mid-pitch chats. I mean what can you say to a man batting like Pietersen? His mouth must have been on the floor, gaped open in astonishment. He must have been thinking he had not realised Test cricket was like this.

To Taylor’s credit, he understood his role, which was to stay in and sit back and watch. And he did that very well. He played the odd shot, but he was almost invisible and that was the best way to be, rather than trying to worry about his contribution to the partnership.

In a way, it must have been quite a nice thing because there wasn’t a lot of pressure on him to score. The scoreboard was rattling around so he could just give Pietersen the strike and concentrate on staying in.

He will obviously remember this day all his life. Anyone at the ground would remember such a great innings, but especially Taylor as he had the best view in the house on debut.

He looked very organised. He didn’t look at all phased, daunted or intimidated by playing against South Africa. He played the ball on its merits, leaving it pretty well, and putting two or three bad balls away.

From a technical point of view, it was a very good start. He looked mentally tough, in contrast to Ravi Bopara who has looked mentally frail when he has played for England.

Jonny Bairstow was here watching at his home ground and I can imagine he was quite impressed. He’ll realise it won’t be easy to get his place back.

The one thing about Taylor is that he is a very small man and I don’t know how much of an impact he can have. It’s a power game now and an England number six will be needed at some stage to take it to the opposition. Bopara and Bairstow do have the ability to do that, but I’m not sure he does. He does have a good one-day record, so maybe he has some power. We will see.

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