Blackcaps v India: NZ coach Gary Stead defends batting icon Ross Taylor after disappointing subcontinent tour

Blackcaps coach Gary Stead has lept to the defence of his most senior batter, after Ross Taylor's disappointing form in India over the past two weeks.

As New Zealand staggered to a series loss - and their worst test defeat in terms of runs at Mumbai - Taylor could only manage 20 runs across his four digs with the bat, facing just 62 balls.

Over 14 years, he has amassed 7584 test runs - more than any other NZ cricketer in history - at an average of 44.87, but at 37, Taylor seems very close to end of his illustrious career.

Stead isn't so sure.

"Ross has had a disappointing tour by his standards, but he's been an exceptional player for New Zealand for a long, long period of time," he insists. "He's not the only guy that's come to India or Asian conditions, and struggled over here."

Stead highlights Taylor's lack of match preparation, after he was mired in New Zealand's COVID-19 lockdown, and unable to play domestic, Indian Premier League or T20 World Cup cricket like most of his teammates.

In fact, his previous outing before arriving in India was the World Test Championship final against the same opponents at Southampton in June.

But most criticism of his Mumbai performance centres around his shot selection, specifically the attempted slog-sweep that saw him dismissed in the second innings.

"I think Ross will look back and be disappointed in that himself," says Stead. "It's a fine balance between batting aggressively and trying to put the spinners under pressure, and trusting your defence to bat for long periods."

New Zealand entered the series without outstanding newcomer Devon Conway and lost captain Kane Williamson to his niggly elbow for the second test, and Stead is heartened by those that filled the void - but not quite enough to suggest Taylor is ready for retirement.

"The thing that's encouraging for our team is we have more options than we had 1-2 years ago, and we've seen the emergence of Will Young and Daryl Mitchell in particular, who have come onto the test scene and done really well.

"But let's not also forget that Ross Taylor has an amazing record behind him - he's been one of New Zealand's premier batsmen for a long, long period of time. You don't lose that class just over one tour."

Stead may need Taylor's experience when the team next assembles to face Bangladesh in January, with Williamson likely to take his time rehabilitating the pesky elbow that has plagued him for a year.

"I think surgery is unlikely," he says. "Kane's going along OK, but I expect it to be a sustained period of time.

"If you look, after the World Test Championship, and coming back for the IPL and World Cup was about 8-9 weeks, so I expect it's somewhere in that time frame again."