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Top 10 Aussie Caps - Mark Taylor

UPDATED 05 December, 2012 12:35PM AEST | by Martin Gabor

Mark Taylor, with 104 caps, comes in at number 10 on the list and will go down as one of the greatest sporting leaders Australia has ever produced.

Known for his excellent leadership qualities, it was his ability to get the best out of players that earned him the most respect.

In a time of cricketing transition, Taylor was the steadying hand Australia needed to see it return to the top of the sport.

Having played 104 Test matches for Australia, Taylor established himself as a rock solid opening batsman capable of just about anything.

From his record equalling 334* in Pakistan, to his record setting 157 catches, Taylor’s impact on Australian cricket was both profound and far reaching.

Few players can lay claim to a better debut season in Test cricket. “Tubby” faced the daunting task of travelling to bowler friendly England for the Ashes in 1989.

While many batsmen struggled for consistency, the 25 year old looked at ease, amassing 839 runs at a whopping 83.9 in the six Test series.

It was a month of milestones for the baby faced newcomer, with Taylor hitting 100 on debut, batting through a day with Geoff Marsh in Headingley, and also becoming the first player in Test cricket to score 1000 runs in their debut season.

It was never going to be easy to continue his scintillating form, and Taylor found the next few years a lot tougher.

With nobody able to hold down the other opening position, Taylor struggled to define his own role in the side.

The emergence of Michael Slater worked wonders for the left-hander, with his patient style of batting balancing out his new partner’s flair.

The new combination exploded onto the scene in 1993, where Taylor hit two centuries on his second Ashes tour.

The turning point in Taylor’s career came in 1994, when he replaced the legendary Allan Border as captain of the national side.

A tough loss away to Pakistan was followed by a 3-1 win on home soil against England. Taylor and Slater continued their dominant form, averaging just over 76 for the opening wicket.

Possibly his greatest milestone as captain came in the 1995 tour of the Caribbean, where the Australians had not won for 22 years.

Despite missing several first choice quicks, Australia went on to win the series 2-1. Taylor’s bold tactics were credited as a major reason for the drought breaking triumph.

The departure of Slater coincided with another bout of poor form for the new Australian captain.

With Taylor having failed to pass 50 for 21 consecutive innings, pressure was mounting on selectors to drop him during the 1997 Ashes tour.

A gritty 129 in the second innings of the First Test saved his career, and earned praise from the previously hostile media world.

Mark Taylor broke all kinds of records when he scored 334* against Pakistan in Peshawar.

In scorching heat, the opener defied the Pakistani attack for two days, before equalling the nation’s highest score set by Sir Donald Bradman.

In an act of unselfishness, Taylor opted to declare level with the greatest batsman of all time.

Like many Australians, Taylor ended his career with a home win against England. Fittingly, he finished his career at the SCG, where Australia went on to win by 98 runs.

His involvement in the game earned him Australian of the Year honours in 1999. He has since joined the Channel Nine commentary team.

Number 5 – Dream Debut

Taylor’s first tour of England was one he will never forget.

Everything seemed to go right for the opener, with Australia going on to win the series 4-0.

On a personal note, Taylor excelled, scoring an incredible 839 runs for the series.

A 329 run partnership with Geoff Marsh, which saw them bat out an entire day, was the obvious highlight of the tour.

Number 4 – That Catch

When he retired, Taylor held the record for most catches in Test cricket with 157.

Arguably the most famous grab has to be in 1996, when he took one of the most ridiculous catches to dismiss Carl Hooper at the SCG.

Despite dropping the initial chance, Taylor kept his composure by falling onto his back, kicking it with his left foot, right foot, and then taking the simple catch at first slip.

It is a catch Hooper, Taylor and Michael Bevan will never forget.
 
Number 3 – A Win in the Windies

No Australian side had won in the West Indies since 1973.

So when Mark Taylor led his team to the Caribbean in 1995, few expected them to return with the Frank Worrell Trophy.

With Craig McDermott and Damien Fleming sidelined through injury, the captain’s job was even more difficult.

Facing the likes of Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose, Australia cruised to a 10 wicket First Test victory.

With the West Indies winning the Third Test inside three days, things looked grim for the visitors.

However, on the back of an inexperienced bowling attack, Australia won the Fourth Test by an innings to wrap up the historic series win.

Taylor’s ability to lead such a youthful side was the catalyst for the triumph, earning him endless praise around the world.

Number 2 – A Century to Silence the Critics

Taylor’s spot in the Test side was hanging by a thread when he took his side to England for the 1997 Ashes.

Having failed to pass 50 in 21 consecutive innings, the Aussie captain needed something special to save his career.

On a green deck, Taylor scored the grittiest 129 of his career to almost save the First Test.

Given the conditions, it was a century of epic proportions that silenced his growing list of critics. Australia went on to win the series 3-2.

Number 1 – Records Aren’t Made to be Broken

In 1998, Taylor equalled the highest score by an Australian when he hit 334* against Pakistan in Peshawar.

In sweltering conditions, Taylor outlasted the Pakistani attack for two days.

When he equalled the score set by Sir Donald Bradman, everyone from the media, spectators and his teammates were on edge to see him break the record.

However, in act of sporting honour, Taylor decided to declare.

It was one of the noblest acts imaginable, with the captain refusing to pass the score of the man he once idolised.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia

First Posted 05 December, 2012 9:52AM AEST

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