Vic Marks: Hard choices face Taylor and his county

We know – because it has leaked out of Leicester and has been fully covered on this site by Paul Bolton’s excellent county reports – that Warwickshire wish to sign James Taylor next season even though he has another year to run on his contract at Grace Road.

We also know via his column in the Independent that Matthew Hoggard, Leicestershire’s captain, is none too happy about this. “They can bugger off”, he writes. “We want to keep our youngsters, thank you very much”.

So Ashley Giles, Warwickshire’s cricket director and a Test selector, has delivered his message to Taylor: “Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you’ve got to do is call and I’ll be there, yes I will, you’ve got a friend”, or words to that effect. Taylor, wisely, has kept his own counsel so far.

There is a history of players moving counties – very often ending up at Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire, the two teams most likely to covet Taylor’s talent – and enhancing their careers in the process.

There was Bob Willis heading off to Edgbaston in the Seventies, Chris Broad to Trent Bridge in the Eighties, Nick Knight to Warwickshire in the Nineties. More recently we have seen how Graeme Swann, Ryan Sidebottom and Chris Tremlett have become major international players after a change of county.

There are several reasons for this. All of us, including selectors, tend to notice a new name at a fresh club. A change of counties invites the spotlight and hints at a restless ambition. Moreover the players involved are presented with a new challenge.

They can start afresh as they go about proving their worth to new colleagues. They can also shed some baggage along the way in an attempt to change those immovable, preconceived ideas that have taken root at their first counties – “He’s too soft, too selfish, too posh, too busy in the bar etc…”

It also helps to move to counties which are enjoying some success. They attract more coverage in the press and on television. Excelling in a Lord’s final never did anyone’s international prospects any harm.

Currently, Leicestershire are struggling both financially and on the field. As I write they are bottom of Division Two in the County Championship, second from bottom – above Scotland – in their Clydesdale Bank 40 group although they have had some Twenty20 success.

So what should Taylor do? It’s up to him, of course. He does have the reassurance that he has become a regular member of the England Lions while still at Leicestershire. The selectors know about him and they rate him. But how much easier would it be for him to make an impact in a better side in the first division? Is it inevitable that he will follow the route out of Leicester taken by Stuart Broad three years ago?

Oh, and there is one other factor that I nearly forgot to mention. The chances are that any county which tempts Taylor away from Grace Road will be prepared to pay him a significantly higher salary than the one he receives now.

It will surprise me if Taylor is still at Grace Road next year. Moreover, if he opts to leave, that decision would be very easy to understand and justify. It may well be the right one for him.

But where does that leave Leicestershire? Very angry in the case of Hoggard. The club can argue that they painstakingly nourish new talent only for it to be grabbed by their big neighbours – though they will receive some compensation via the fee payments system if Taylor goes on to play international cricket.

And where does that leave county cricket? We are getting ever closer to money doing all the talking just as it does in football. At the moment it is only the inability of Surrey to translate a large income into success on the field that gives the poorer counties hope.

Currently there is no transfer fee in cricket to bolster poor counties, with the capacity to unearth quality players. The only solution for those counties seems to be to persuade their talented young cricketers to sign long contracts. Then, if they are to be poached, the poachers must pay substantial compensation in lieu of a transfer fee.

Something like that might happen with Taylor. Hoggard realises this but is understandably fed up at the prospect of losing one of his best cricketers: “Warwickshire have come to us with the attitude that because they’ve got more money to throw around they can take our player away and give us a few sweeties to soften the blow”.

The sad conundrum for Leicestershire is this: if they let Taylor go now they will, at least, get some sweeties; if they hang on to him until his contract is up next year, they will get none.

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8 Responses to Vic Marks: Hard choices face Taylor and his county

  1. Chris Briddon says:

    Do you not think that Ashley giles roles as heas of cricket at warwickshire and an england selector are a conflict of interests.

    Being an England selector gives Ashley the opportunity to talk to any young english player – but what he seemsto do is use the time to poach young players to Edgbaston!
    I am a derbyshire supporter and we have already lost a couple of players to Wariwcks via this route – it needs to be stopped and quickly!

    • Paul says:

      Didnt Derby take Mr G. Welch from Warwickshire and get fantastic service after the Bears had put many seasons hard work into his skill levels?

      • David Morrison says:

        Re Paul’s comment.

        Yes, probably because he was forced out because of new talent brought in from elsewhere. Despite the financial comfort blanket that existed for a number of years from being one of the 6 traditional test venues, Warwickshire and in particular Nottinghamshire have been poachers of other counties talent.

        Hopefully the change to ECB funding will encourage these two in particular to try and bring through their own talent but as long as the ‘King of Spain’ has his two hats Warwickshire will be perennially poaching division 2 talent with the lure of England call ups being paramount in Gilo’s sales patter

  2. Colin Stringer says:

    Cricket will lose much that makes it special if it goes down the football route and allows the test match ground teams use their financial muscle to hoover up talent produced by other team’s academies. Its not like they are independently wealthy most are dependent on the ECB for their fix of tests and ODIs. At the same time they expect the smaller counties to give up their T20 cash cow which offers some the hope of financial parity.

    And I agree with Chris, Giles is a menace and should be asked to choose between his two jobs, there is a clear confilct of interest.

  3. Tommo says:

    As a Leicestershire member I would be very sorry to see him go. The players I feel sorry for are young players at the likes of Surrey, Warwicks, Notts etc who must wonder if they’ll ever be given a chance when vacancies are filled by poaching from other counties rather than trusting in the counties academy set up. Also I hear Warwicks are prepared to offer a player in exchange, it can’t fill him with confidence that his club are willing to swap him for someone else.

  4. Hugh Faulkner says:

    At least historically no county has done better than Leicestershire at moulding a team out of players drawn from other counties. The 1975 championship winning side was built round three ex Yorkshiremen in Ray Illingworth, Jack Birkenshaw & Chris Balderstone plus Ken Higgs and Norman McVicker, formerly of Lancs & Warwicks respectively.

  5. Tommo says:

    Leicestershire use many players from different counties, but usually after they have been discarded by their previous county, the likes of Malik, Jefferson, Hoggard as well as Benning last season, Dixey and Kadeer Ali on trial this season. Signing players released from other counties is different to poaching them when they are in their prime by offering them the oppurtunity to play for a selector. My feelings on Taylor are that if we can keep him for one or two more seasons he’ll then be playing for England and centrally contracted and will not need to move.

  6. Jim says:

    Taylor isn’t from Leicestershire either iirc.