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By Peter Della Penna (on Twitter)
DreamCricket.com is wrapping up the year in United States Cricket by recognizing USA’s standout performers at the international level. The 2012 New Inning Foundation Junior Cricketer of the Year is Steven Taylor. The 19-year-old from Miramar, Florida, also claimed the New Inning Foundation Junior Cricketer of the Year award in 2011.
A product of the Florida Cricket Academy, Taylor was USA’s standout player at the only international age group cricket event USA participated in during the calendar year. He captained the USA U-18 side in Florida this past July in the ICC Americas U-18 Match Play Camp and finished as the leading scorer at the tournament. In four official matches, he produced 159 runs at an average of 39.75 with a high score of 102 off 117 balls against Canada. It was the only century scored at the event. To highlight Taylor’s value, the next best batsman for USA scored just 47 runs. He also took off his wicketkeeping pads to bowl both medium pace and off-spin, taking two wickets. In an unofficial T20 match vs. Bermuda U-18 during the same event, Taylor also scored an astonishing 81 off just 35 balls.
A month later, Taylor was selected to captain an ICC Americas U-19 side in the West Indies Cricket Board Regional U-19 50-over tournament. He finished as the side’s leading scorer overall and turned in the squad’s top individual batting performance as well, a run a ball 75 against Barbados U-19. At the end of the tournament, he was given the award for Best Fielder after claiming five catches.
Image (right) - Steven Taylor in action vs. Denmark at 2012 ICC WCL Division Four in Malaysia. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
While Taylor was selected as the 2012 New Inning Foundation Junior Cricketer of the Year based on performances in age group cricket, Taylor showed in 2012 that he was more than ready to contribute to USA’s senior side too. At the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in March, Taylor was second on the team in runs with 179 runs, finishing just behind captain Sushil Nadkarni. His high score of 40 came against Scotland as his opening partnership with Aditya Mishra set the tone for a thrilling seven-wicket upset win over one of the six ODI Associate and Affiliate nations.
At ICC World Cricket League Division Four in Malaysia, Taylor finished second overall at the tournament in runs scored. Once again, he was only outdone by his teammate Nadkarni. His 216 runs included half-centuries against Malaysia and Singapore as he played a key role in helping USA qualify for Division Three this April in Bermuda.
In October, Taylor furthered his reputation on the international stage when he took part in a pair of Twenty20 fixtures in Karachi, Pakistan which were organized in an attempt to encourage the return of international tours to the country which have ceased since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in March of 2009. Taylor was named Player of the Series for the International World XI after scoring 19 runs in two innings and, more impressively, taking four wickets with his off-spin including 3 for 22 in four overs in the second Twenty20. His figures over the two days would have been even better had several catches not been dropped off his bowling.
Even though he’s still just a teenager, the evidence is mounting that Taylor may be the finest player developed inside the USA for more than a century. Every assured performance he turns in gives hope to the goal of one day having a USA senior side full of players developed on American soil.
In recognition of his achievement, Taylor will receive a plaque as well as a $250 DreamCricket.com Pavilion Shop gift certificate sponsored by New Inning Foundation.