Bats Left Hand.
Bowls Right Arm Medium
Bats Left Hand.
Bowls Right Arm Medium
Ashes Tests: 33
Record: 9 wins, 4 losses, 3 draws
Off the Mark
Mark Taylor had the unenviable job of taking over from Australia’s most prolific skipper, Allan Border. Yet, while most incumbents would have shirked their responsibilities, Taylor embraced the challenge.
Taylor was a staunch opening-batsman of the highest order. In his 33 Ashes matches, Taylor scored 2,496 runs at an average of 42.30. The majority of those runs came from his first tour of England, where a baby-faced Taylor scored 839 runs in an historic series win.
Many thought the 1997 tour to England would be Taylor’s last. The skipper had gone 21 innings without a Test match 50, and pressure was mounting on him to step aside. Things looked set to continue when he won the toss and decided to bat on a violently green deck in Birmingham. Had Shane Warne not hit 47, Australia mightn’t have got anywhere near their first innings total of 118. With the pitch improving, Nasser Hussain (207) and Graham Thorpe (138) effectively batted Australia out of the game. In a bid to resurrect his career, Taylor dug in on the third day with teammate Greg Blewett. The pair added 194 for the second wicket in a courageous stand. Alas, Robert Croft took three wickets, including Taylor for 129, before Michael Atherton steered the hosts to a nine wicket win.
After saving his career with his gritty hundred, Taylor lost form immediately, with four runs from the next three matches. Luckily for him, and Australia, he regained some confidence at Trent Bridge to set-up the series clinching win. The top five all passed 50, with Taylor’s 76 the top score. Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath then took four wickets each to bowl England out for 313. A quick-fire 63 from Ian Healy left England chasing 451 for victory, but McGrath and Warne combined to seal a 264 run win.
Mark Taylor is seen as one of the most well-rounded skippers in Australian history. His calmness on the field, mixed with his batting ability, his relationship with the board, as well as his general demeanour, made him a terrific leader.
While Border had relied on Bob Simpson to do a lot of managerial work, Taylor embraced the added workload. He fronted media conferences on behalf of the team, led training sessions on the field and led the talk before each game.
He was also the first man to not have control of both teams. While he captained the Test side with aplomb, Taylor was replaced by Steve Waugh as leader of the ODI team.
Taylor’s finest moment as a captain was the series in in the West Indies. The 1995 touring party became the first Australian side to win in the Caribbean since 1973. Despite missing a host of front line bowlers, players like McGrath stepped up with the ball, while Waugh’s heroics with the bat in Jamaica guided Australia to the famous win.
It wasn’t always a smooth time at the top for Taylor. Much has been made of his lengthy barren run of outs, while he also saw partners come and go at the other end. The opening position was shared by a number of players while Taylor was there, with names such as Geoff Marsh, Michael Slater and Matthew Elliott teaming up with Taylor.
His diplomatic nous helped him get along with the Board, while his passion for the game has seen him continue to feature heavily in modern Australian cricket. He has been a commentator with Channel Nine for over a decade, while he is also on the Cricket Australia Board.
Played and Missed
Taylor’s 839 runs on the 1989 Ashes tour were the most in a series after Sir Donald Bradman.
In the fifth Test, he and Geoff Marsh batted out the first day. In doing so, they became the first opening pair to play out an entire day’s cricket.
Mark Taylor was poised to post the highest score by an Australian in Test cricket when he reached 334 in Peshawar. However, to honour Bradman, Taylor decided to declare, as he didn’t feel he deserved to beat the great man’s score.
In his final Test match, Taylor eclipsed Allan Border as the greatest fieldsman of all time, when he held onto an edge from Mark Ramprakash.
Shoaib Akhtar might be the Rawalpindi Express, but it was Taylor who surprised everyone in 1994 to pick up his sole Test wicket. With Saleem Malik occupying the crease for over seven hours, Taylor tried ten different bowlers, including himself. Rather embarrassingly for Rashid Latif, he fell victim to Taylor’s gentle offerings.
It's three decades to the day since David Boon swept away years of Ashes pain at Old Trafford