cricket, SPORTS

Wanted — U.S. Run Machine Steven Taylor

Don’t care where you come from
As long as you’re a black man, you’re an African
No mind your nationality
You have got the identity of an African

‘Cause if you come from Clarendon
And if you come from Portland
And if you come from Westmoreland
You’re an African

— Peter Tosh

It was Peter Tosh, the late great Jamaican reggae musician, who through foresight and inspiration penned the lyrics to the foregoing song titled, African.

Tosh, one will remember, joined with Bob Marley and Bunny Livingston to form the formidable Wailers band. He later established himself as a successful solo artist and a promoter of Rastafari.

He was baptized by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Tosh was murdered in 1987, along with two other entertainers during a home robbery.

What does that have to do with Taylor the cricketer is the question that may immediately come to one’s mind.

Well, the simple answer is, Taylor, though born in the U.S., is Jamaican and by extension a West Indian.

And as Tosh sings, As long as you’re a black man, you’re an African; similarly, within the context of the Jamaican constitution, as long as you are of Jamaican parentage, you are Jamaican.

Steven Ryan Taylor, the 23-year-old, started to play cricket at an early age, coached by his father Sylvan Taylor and later by his mentor Mark Johnson, a former U.S. left-handed batsman.

He has made exceptional progress since his formative years honing skills in the U.S. He is not only a left-handed explosive opening batsman but also a wicketkeeper and right-arm off-spinner.

At the junior level, playing in the United States, he has scored several half-centuries, centuries,  and double centuries.

He played in the 2010 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand, as a wicketkeeper-batsman.

He was also selected as vice-captain for the ICC Americas Under-19 Championship held in Florida, in the 2010-11 cricket season.

He played in that tournament as a wicketkeeper-batsman and helped his team the U.S. to win the tournament. He finished the tournament as one of the three top batters with a total of 157 runs from 5 games and a top score of 83.

He was also the top wicketkeeper, producing 7 dismissals (5 catches, 2 stumpings) from 5 games.

Since then, Taylor has moved on to play at the senior level where he has continued to strut his cricket credential by playing in competition such as the  2010 ICC World Cricket League Division Four, 2011 ICC World Cricket League Division Three, 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, and in the same year the ICC World Cricket League Division Four.

In 2013, Taylor became the first U.S. batsman to record a century in a Twenty20 competition. He accomplished this feat in the ICC World Cricket League Americas Region Twenty20 Division One tournament. He scored 101 off 62 balls against Bermuda and also hit the century mark again when he scored 127  not out against the Cayman Islands.

Later in the year, he represented the United States in the 2013 ICC World Cricket League Division Three. He was the top batsman in the competition, scoring a total of 274 runs, at a run rate of 45.66. He scored a century in that tournament when he scored 162 in the opening match against Nepal.

Although Taylor has played in the Windies regional competitions — Hero CPL T20 and WICB Nagico Super50 tournament, he has not acquitted himself as well as one would have anticipated.

However, his performance for Jamaica Scorpions in the recently concluded Super50 tournament has forced all and sundry to sit up and take notice of this new kid on the block. He hit his highest scores of 88, 86, and 45 against Trinidad and Tobago Red Force, Guyana Jaguars and Barbados Pride, respectively.

Taylor has taken his off-seasons from the Florida club calendar to play club cricket in Jamaica for the last two years in a bid to improve his chances of playing for Jamaica.

He got his opportunity in the Super50 with the absence of Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, and Andre Russell from the Jamaica team.

Taylor is also contracted to play for Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean T20 Premier League.

Now, given his all-round cricketing skills, one can conclude that big things are in store for this young man if he continues to perform and show his passion for the game.

Carol Maye, Readers Bureau, Fellow

Edited by Jesus Chan

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