Ross Taylor is just five games away from becoming New Zealand's most-capped international cricketer, across formats, and might end up setting the bar really high by the time he decides to quit, because the next 50-over World Cup - in late 2023 - "is definitely on the radar" for him.
Taylor, who is nearing 37, should go past Daniel Vettori's mark of 437 international caps during the upcoming home series (three T20Is and two Tests) against West Indies. He said he had been using the Covid-19-enforced break to think about the future, and admitted that it would be a challenge to go on for another three years to sign off at the World Cup, to be played in India.
Speaking at a press interaction after the New Zealanders reached Auckland, the venue for the first T20I on November 27, Taylor said, "2023 was going to be a stretch, I think, at the best of times, when it was (supposed to be held in) February and March. And now, the World Cup has been dragged out to October and November '23, it's another six or seven months to hang around.
"You've got to have short-term goals and long-term goals and the one-day World Cup is definitely on the radar. I might have to trim things back leading into that - I'm not getting any younger. It doesn't mean I will make it, but, it's definitely one of my goals."
"To have a complete break away from that and not have the excuse to that you've got a game in a couple of days' time and to be present with my family was something I'll never forget. But, at the same time, you're only a cricketer for a certain period of time, and I'm not getting any younger, so I've got to make the most of every opportunity I can"
New Zealand's last international game was the first ODI against Australia in Sydney on March 13, played in front of empty stands, before that series was called off in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. Taylor might well have gone past Vettori's mark had there been a normal calendar through 2020, and jokingly said, "don't jinx it, when asked about the impending milestone.
From an international debut in an ODI - also against West Indies - in Napier in March 2006, Taylor has treaded a long path, playing 101 Tests, 232 ODIs and 100 T20Is prior to the start of the upcoming series.
"I was really happy to play one or two games for New Zealand," he said, looking back. "I've still got to get there first, but my mentor, Martin Crowe, always used to say records are meant to be broken for the next guy to come beat. Whatever number of games I end up on, hopefully Kane [Williamson, who has 291 caps] and whoever comes through can beat that and keep setting the bar higher."
Taylor was away playing the Caribbean Premier League not too long ago, and agreed that it wasn't always easy to play in crowdless stadia, even though players were used to empty stands at domestic matches.
No fans made it "a little bit dull, almost like a warm-up game", Taylor said. "In domestic cricket, we don't really get a lot of people, so that hasn't felt any different," he said with a laugh. "(From) playing in front of nobody to having the possibility of playing in front of thousands of people, I think - that's why you want to play for, you play for your family and friends and the fans."
Like with many others, a break from the hectic schedule went down well with Taylor, but he conceded that he was desperate to get back to playing.
"When you're a parent, it's nice to have your kids around, but you've normally got a little bit of your mind on the game you're playing in a couple of days' time," he said. "To have a complete break away from that and not have the excuse to that you've got a game in a couple of days' time and to be present with my family was something I'll never forget.
"But, at the same time, you're only a cricketer for a certain period of time, and I'm not getting any younger, so I've got to make the most of every opportunity I can."