The story of Jerome Taylor's comeback

Jamaica Observer article.

Kingston, Jamaica - Fast bowler Jerome Taylor, the victim of a series of back-related injuries over the years, is happy to again be a part of the West Indies Test set-up after an absence dating back to late 2009.

The Jamaican cricketer, who turns 30 later this month, was recalled to face New Zealand in the first Test at Sabina Park, granting him a return to the ground where his sensational second- innings spell of 5-11 and match haul of 8-85 helped to wreck England in February 2009.

"It's a prestigious feeling, a feeling I've always wanted," he told the Jamaica Observer.

"I've been looking forward to this for some time. I've had very good performances here so it's just to try and get as close as possible to the one I had against England. It's going to be difficult, but it's a target and if I can get that it would be good for me and for the West Indies."

Bowling an immaculate length and mostly holding a nagging off-stump line on Sunday's opening day, the speedster was the pick of the West Indies bowlers.

Though his long-awaited comeback yielded only one wicket on that day, Taylor could not be faulted on a slow and batting-friendly track. Many expect richer rewards when he is handed more suitable bowling conditions.

Since breaking down in Australia in November 2009, his recovery has been long and torturous.

He returned in mid- 2010 to participate in the limited-overs phase of the series against the visiting South Africans, but that comeback was frustratingly curtailed by more back complaints.

There were a handful of revivals in domestic cricket since then, but those were short-lived as Taylor became apprehensive once he felt any discomfort.

The Jamaica team's physical trainer David Bernard Snr -- armed with the advice of a doctor -- had a theory that Taylor's sciatic nerve, a large nerve extending from the lower back down the back of each leg, was at the root of the problem.

"In Jerome Taylor's situation, I took him to a doctor and the doctor said to him that he had some scar tissue resting on his sciatic nerve so when he bowls it gets inflamed and was causing that stiffness.

"Because of a psychological response he probably felt it was the injury coming on again. I tried to encourage him that the body will gradually adapt, and with a stretching regime and his strengthening exercises, it will take that problem away. It's more a psychological problem," the veteran trainer told this tabloid.

In his latest return, Taylor's adherence to his training programme and careful monitoring of each stage of his preparation are key components to remaining injury-free.

"I'm here again and I'm trying my best to stay on the park. It's about continuing to improve and see how best we can take it from here.

"It's a lot of work that has been put in over the last couple of months. In the [training] camp the other day I did a lot, physically and mentally. Everything is okay with the back, so if selected, I'm just looking to go out there and exploit (the opposition)," Taylor said.

The former St Elizabeth Technical High School stand-out played 29 Test matches between 2003 and 2009 and took 82 wickets at 35.64. Unique for a lower-order batsman, he also has a Test century.

In 66 One-Day Internationals, Taylor has taken 98 wickets at 26.82.

Taylor was Jamaica's top pace bowler in this season's Regional Super50 and Four-day tournaments. He took six wickets in three matches in the Super50 tournament, and 25 from eight in the longer format.

Junior Bennett, the Jamaica head coach, was pleased with his displays.

"He bowled exceptionally well throughout the Four-day tournament. He is always a skilful bowler, but it's just his fitness we were worried about. It was good to see him coming through the Super50 then the first-class season without injury," Bennett said.

Now the hope is that the relatively small-framed fast bowler can stand the physical trials of this series.

The second Test match is set to be played at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad & Tobago from June 16-20, while the third is scheduled for the Kensington Oval in Barbados from June 26-30.

First Published In The Jamaica Observer.

Tue, 06/10/2014 - 04:52