Ross Taylor second only to Virat Kohli since 2015 World Cup

There may be no point asking if you know who owns second-best ODI batting average since the last World Cup, because of course you have read the headline, and seen the photo above. But would you have known that? Could you have guessed it? Ross Taylor slides low.
Too old to claim membership among batting’s “Fab Four”, and too embedded in New Zealand’s Nice Guys Collective (TM) to trumpet his own successes, Taylor has quietly put together one of the most impressive ODI records over the last four years. In doing so he has not only reinvented his own limited-overs batting, he has also surmounted a substantial medical obstacle.
We will get to the growth in Taylor’s game, as well as the growth in his eye and the surgery that has helped transform him into one of the best ODI batsmen on the planet. But first, let us establish his credentials.
Since the 2015 World Cup, only Virat Kohli (on his way to being the greatest one-day batsman) has had a better average than Taylor. Although others – especially openers – have had better strike rates, almost no one has been more consistent. In the 12 innings leading up to this India series, Taylor has been dismissed for less than 50 only twice. One-thirty-seven, 90, 54, 86*, 80, 181* – so read his six most-recent scores.
Although it would seem that Kane Williamson – who hit five consecutive half-centuries the last time these two teams met in New Zealand – was the key figure in New Zealand’s top order, Taylor has actually left Williamson in the dust since the last World Cup. Taylor’s average of 69.72 is more than 21 runs better than Williamson’s in the same period.
What’s more, it is Taylor who is most likely to strike up a big partnership with one of the other senior batsmen in any ODI innings. In the list containing the top 15 partnerships (by average) since the last World Cup, Taylor’s name appears three times – Tom Latham, Williamson and Martin Guptill being the men with whom he has put up the most productive stands. Taylor has been especially effective alongside Latham – a fact Taylor puts down to the ease with which Latham settles into an innings.
“Tom is great to bat with, and we have a right-left hand combination, which quite often goes really well,” Taylor says. “At the start of his innings, especially against slow bowlers, Tom can manipulate the field really well. Quite often how you start the partnership can dictate a lot of how much pressure you’re put under.”
Only Kohli appears as often as Taylor on this list; Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane are his preferred partners.
So how has Taylor orchestrated his ODI advance? Until the end of the 2015 World Cup, Taylor was a good ODI batsman with an average in the low forties. Yet since then, he has quickly become a world-beater, rising to No. 3 on the rankings (behind Kohli and Rohit). Part of that improvement is down to experience, he says.
“You play a couple of hundred games, you’ve worked out your game a little bit. I find that I don’t over-complicate things too much. I just try to relax before I go out to bat and just try to sum up the situation as soon as possible and as quick as possible once I get out there. Maybe in the past you have a pre-conceived idea on how the wicket’s going to play, or how you should play once you’re out there. And then you get out there and it’s totally different.”
This can only part of the story, however, because while experience might lead a player to gradual progress, Taylor’s leap towards the stratosphere demands a more immediate cause. Around 2010, Taylor had become aware that there was a growth in his left eye – called a pterygium – but it was not until late 2015 that he paid it much heed. Immediately after having an optometrist inspect it, and picking up prescription eye drops, Taylor struck 290 in a Test in Perth. The previous week, in Brisbane, he said he “couldn’t really see the ball”, and had picked up scores of 0 and 26.