- Publish Date
- Wednesday, 17 August 2022, 9:00AM
By Albie Redmore
Former Black Caps captain Ross Taylor has revealed that New Zealand Cricket missed its chance to recruit a teenage Ben Stokes, after Taylor spotted his raw talent while playing County Cricket.
Taylor, writing in his new book 'Ross Taylor: Black & White', recalls playing with the future England superstar at Durham in 2010 and trying to facilitate a shift back to his country of birth.
Stokes, England's current Test captain and long rated as one of the best all-rounders in world cricket, was raised in New Zealand before moving to the UK aged 12 to settle in Cumbria where his father was offered a job as a rugby coach. Taylor believes there was a window of opportunity to poach Stokes while his New Zealand roots were still laid bare.
"He was 18 or 19 and very much a Kiwi. Over a Guinness, I asked him if he wanted to come and play in New Zealand. He was keen, so I sent a message to New Zealand Cricket CEO Justin Vaughan, saying this guy Stokes was a really good young cricketer and interested in playing for New Zealand."
Taylor goes on to say that Vaughan may not have held the young Stokes in as high regard as himself and so made no major moves to secure his trade.
"Vaughan replied along the lines that he could start playing domestic cricket and we would see where it went.
"I went back saying we would have to offer him more than that because he wouldn't be interested if it meant starting on the bottom rung of the ladder. Obviously it didn't come to anything.
"Ben was sincere about playing for New Zealand but NZC would've had to have acted swiftly and decisively and given him some pretty solid assurances, which Vaughan clearly wasn't prepared to do."
At the end of what was an impressive debut season for Durham in 2010, Stokes was selected for England's Performance Programme - a pathway to international cricket for promising young players - and made his ODI debut in August 2011 as a 20-year-old.
The 2019 ODI World Cup became the most poignant reminder of this missed opportunity as Stokes produced a man-of-the-match performance to help England claim the tournament trophy, and break the hearts of scores of Black Caps fans in doing so.
ust months later, Stokes was officially nominated for the New Zealander of the Year awards - another slap in the face for cricket-loving Kiwis - though it seemed he retained the humility of his Cantabrian roots as he swiftly turned it down and withdrew from the voting process.
Finally, in April this year, Stokes achieved a first for the England Test team that still looks like a faraway prospect on home shores: he became the side's first Māori captain.
While most Black Caps fans have only been able to dream of the idea of Stokes batting and bowling alongside the likes of Kane Williamson, Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori, Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor did more than that, but was left with the empty idea of what could have been.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission
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