Taylor Cornall praised Worcestershire Club Captain Brett D’Oliveira and experienced top three batters Jake Libby and Azhar Ali in helping him to adjust to the demands of first team cricket in his debut season at New Road.
The left-hander was delighted to have made five LV=Insurance County Championship and seven One Day Cup games after linking up with Worcestershire following a successful trial period with the Seconds at the end of the 2021 campaign.
Cornall says D’Oliveira was instrumental in him immediately feeling at home in the senior set-up while he learnt a lot about coping with the demands and pressures of batting at the top of the order from Libby and Azhar.
It was a high volume of runs for the Seconds last summer, including two centuries against Glamorgan at Newport, which earned Cornall an opportunity at senior level.
A highly responsible innings of 31 not out against Middlesex at Merchant Taylor’s School to seal victory after Ed Pollock’s brilliant hundred was an early indication of Cornall’s potential.
He followed that up by finishing as Worcestershire’s second-highest scorer in the One Day Cup and came within three runs of a maiden century against Essex at New Road.
Cornall is heading to Australia shortly to play grade cricket during the second half of the winter as part of the learning process before returning with the aim of forcing his way into first team contention again via a successful pre-season.
Here Cornall looks back on his debut season and the aims for the future.
Q: How do you reflect on your first season, with five LV=Insurance County Championship and seven Royal London Cup games?
Taylor Cornall: “Very happy with the exposure I got with the first team. Little disappointed, especially with the Championship, that I didn’t cash in on any of those opportunities and make a real difference in some of the games.
“But very proud to have made my Championship debut and, also, to get the games I did, I’m very happy.”
Q: Like your flatmate Ben Gibbon, you forced your way into the side. He got a lot of wickets for the Seconds, and you got a lot of runs?
Taylor Cornall: “Those three or four hundreds helped me. Kadeer Ali and Kevin Sharp were both very supportive of me and they really helped me through.
“It was a bit of a tough start to the season on some of the spicier club decks but, when you get a couple of flat wickets, you can make hay when the sun shines and really put some pressure on the lads who are occupying the spots ahead of you.”
Q: The game at Newport, when you scored two centuries against Glamorgan Seconds, was a big game for you?
Taylor Cornall: “Massive. That really kick-started me and got me moving forward really. As I said, when you get a flat wicket, make as many as you before the following week, and you are on a green-top again!”
Q: What did you find was the biggest step up when you played Championship cricket?
Taylor Cornall: “I think just the pure intensity of it and the demand on the players and the expectation almost.
“But, to be fair, with Brett as captain, as he is a great leader, it just felt like an extension of playing Seconds and club cricket. It was such a lovely atmosphere to play in.
“I’ve some great mates at Worcestershire now, and hats off to Brett because he makes it such a great environment to come and play in.
“He gives you that full backing, and you feel confident that you can just go out there and execute your game without having to worry about too much.”
Q: You must have thought luck was against you when getting the only ball that misbehaved at Durham and shot along the floor!
Taylor Cornall: “It was a tough one after fielding 170 overs and my game being finished second ball! But it’s only character-building moving forward. It could only have gotten better really after that!
“It is cricket. You have to deal with that sort of thing. I’m sure it won’t be the last time it happens. You just have to move on.”
Q: I guess in red ball cricket the highlight for you was the unbeaten 31 to see Worcestershire over the line and victory against Middlesex after Ed Pollock’s brilliant hundred?
Taylor Cornall: “It was perfectly set up for us by Ed, a fantastic knock, and it was up to me to do a supporting job and make sure we got home after his fireworks.
“The plan was to try and back up what Ed had done in a slightly less entertaining fashion!”
Q: You batted with Azhar Ali, Jake Libby as well as Brett D’Oliveira; how much did that experience help you having them at the other end?
Taylor Cornall: “It is massive, really. The amount you can learn from them, more off the pitch as well, dealing with low scores and things like that.
“It makes it so much easier when you have the experience of them to pass on and the tips and tricks of playing week in and week out, putting things behind you.
“Jake and Azhar were both huge advocates of when they got in, it was never just a hundred, it was a double hundred and big not outs.
“Especially batting at the top of the order, like those two do, you are going to get good balls and you are going to have low scores. It is just part of the game, especially in conditions in England.
“The biggest lesson I learnt from them was ‘once you get in, a hundred is not enough’. You’ve got to go on and get a 180-200 and really make it count.”
Q: You clearly enjoy batting long periods yourself, as you showed in several performances in the Seconds?
Taylor Cornall: “Definitely. It is probably one of my biggest attributes, trying to bat for long periods.”
Q: For your first three Championship games you opened, batted number four and then number three. Which do you feel best suits you?
Taylor Cornall: “Anywhere I can play in the team is a ‘win’ for me, but, if I had to choose, I’d definitely open.
“I didn’t realise how different it is when you are sat there waiting to bat. I’ve always opened so when you walk in you know you’ve got to strap the pads on and go straight out to bat.
“When you are waiting and not used to it it is a horrible period when you are not sure what to do when to put pads on etc.
“You could be waiting for one ball or five hours.”
Q: You must have been pleased with the One Day Cup, second highest scorer for Worcestershire and three half-centuries?
Taylor Cornall: “I was very pleased. I was pleased with my progression from the start to the end of the tournament, and I’ve learnt a lot from that exposure of playing regularly.
“It was a shame I didn’t complete the century in that game against Essex, but I was still very proud of what I produced.”
Q: Did it take a while to get used to the pace of playing 50 over cricket compared to red ball?
Taylor Cornall: “Definitely. It just took me a little time to adjust to the differences, really. I think that showed with how I moved forward in scoring a fifty at Old Trafford without a boundary to then moving onto the Essex game.”
Q: The 97 against Essex must have given you a lot of pleasure against a very decent attack?
Taylor Cornall: “It did, and that it was at home, and there were a lot of Worcestershire fans in that day, so it was really nice.
“I was very disappointed not to just get over the line but still very proud of it.”
Q: Are there any areas in particular you want to work on this winter?
Taylor Cornall: “I’m always looking to improve, and I’ve got a list of six or seven things that I could reel off.
“But it is more for me just keep adding power to my game in the white ball cricket and then just keep cementing basics and working hard in the red ball.”
Q: You are off to play grade cricket in Australia in the New Year, another part of the learning curve?
Taylor Cornall: “Definitely. That is going to be great exposure again, different wickets.
“The main thing for me to get from that trip is to come back ready to attack pre-season and hopefully force my way into the first team again and produce some match-winning performances in red ball at the start of the year, really.”
Q: There will be a lot of competition in the red ball batting next season?
Taylor Cornall: “It is always a good thing. The more competition there is, the better you get. Potentially there will be a couple of people disappointed at the start of the season because of the competition.
“When you have a strong Seconds team, your first team can’t be bad either! It’s only a positive thing moving forward.”
Q: Have you got any specific goals for 2023?
Taylor Cornall: “I just want to keep on making an impact in all formats. My personal aim would be for a Championship hundred in 2023.
“I know Jack (Haynes) got his first last year, and it was lovely to see him then go on and keep on producing.”
Q: Your spin bowling, do you want to expand that?
Taylor Cornall: “It is definitely something I want to progress moving forward and just give the captain another option.”