- Publish Date
- Wednesday, 19 February 2020, 10:38AM
In mountaineering, they have a name for the peaks that rise above 8000m – the death zone.
There's nothing quite so dramatic in test cricket but those who go beyond 8000 runs are still breathing rarefied air.
Ross Taylor, who plays his 100th test at the Basin Reserve starting on Friday, has set his sights on scaling those heights.
"I'd like to get to 8000 test runs," Taylor told the Herald. "That'd be nice."
Last year he became just the second New Zealander to pass 7000 test runs, behind Stephen Fleming. He then limped past the left-hander's aggregate of 7172 on the disastrous tour of Australia to claim the New Zealand record.
Just 30 players in the 143-year history of test cricket have gone beyond 8000, though Joe Root, David Warner, Steven Smith and Virat Kohli are, like Taylor, in position to join the club (and given the amount of tests those from England, Australia and India play, are likely to get there ahead of Taylor).
Based on his average of 46, Taylor will need 18 completed innings to score the remaining 824 runs. Based on completed innings per test, Taylor would require 11 or 12 tests to get there.
All running to schedule – and these things rarely do – Taylor would be looking to reach the magical milestone when Bangladesh tour here at the end of 2021.
If it all sounds a bit bloodless, there is sound logic, and the advice of an all-time great, behind Taylor's pursuit of targets.
"Martin [Crowe] was a big believer in goals, not to drive you when you were doing well, but to give you a push when things were just meandering along. Goals can help get you back on track."
Taylor has already passed most of the goals he thought possible when he started his test-match trek, including passing Crowe's century tally of 17. Taylor now has 19 and adding a couple more would hasten the progress to 8000, but he knows nothing can be taken for granted.
He would have seen how far away the closest targets can seem when he crawled past Fleming's 7172 at Sydney, having scored just 72 across his previous five innings.
"Sometimes you can see the summit about 200m away but it can take you two hours to get there," said renowned German mountaineer David Gottler about climbing at 8000m. "It just never gets any closer."
Taylor will hope his ascent up the batting ranks will be smoother.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission