New Delhi: When Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote Taylor, better known to you and I as the current New Zealand captain Ross Taylor, seriously began to veer away from hockey to cricket in the Wellington suburb of Wairarapa, the population of the entire region had not yet hit the 20,000 mark. Today, when Taylor swishes his blade with refreshing ferocity for the Delhi Daredevils, well in excess of 40,000 people pack the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi. Taylor, still only 28, and with plenty of cricket ahead of him, has already come a long way, literally and figuratively, thanks to the game. Taylor tells Wisden India what it's like to be a torch bearer for New Zealand in the IPL.
Has your participation in the IPL shown people back home that there's a future in cricket?
You hope that people back in New Zealand see that there is now a good future in cricket. There is a definite career path in playing cricket and a good living to be made. In New Zealand, rugby is first by a long way and I'm not sure this is something that is ever going to change. Most kids dream of being an All Black. But now, they can see that there's value in playing for New Zealand, and an IPL contract doesn't hurt.
The IPL and the glitz surrounding it are dramatically different from what you're used to at home. How do you deal with this?
That's the nice thing about playing international cricket - testing yourself out in different conditions. It's not just the pitch and the weather, but also the atmosphere at grounds, the cities you're in. Playing at home you get accustomed to certain things, because that's what you've grown up with. When you play away, you're taken out of your comfort zone, whether it's the bouncier wickets of Australia or turning tracks in the subcontinent. It makes you a better player. The atmosphere in India is completely different from New Zealand when it comes to crowds. You can walk around New Zealand and although people recognise you as a cricketer, they don't usually want a photo with you or an autograph. In India, it's the complete opposite. It's nice to be recognised and meet different people and try and take it a bit further.
How much of a following does the IPL enjoy in New Zealand?
The fans don't follow it as much as would be ideal. In the first year, we played just a few games. You sort of need New Zealand players to be taking part full time to get New Zealanders to follow. The time difference doesn't help and in the last couple of years, the games haven't been live on TV. This year, the early games weren't on TV but the rest are. After this year there should be a better following. A bit more of an understanding of its players, where they're playing, what they're doing.