Saturday, April 20, 2024

NZC: Remembering Bruce Taylor

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia Photo

Bruce Taylor, the New Zealand all-rounder who remains the only player in the world to have scored a century and taken a five-wicket bag on Test debut, has passed away in Wellington, aged 77.

New Zealand Test cap No.108, Taylor achieved the remarkable feat in the second Test against India at Kolkata in 1965, having been drafted into the playing eleven at the last moment to replace Barry Sinclair, who had fallen ill.

Having begun the second day unbeaten on 13, and with his batting partner – Bert Sutcliffe, on 74, Taylor adopted a strategy of all-out attack against the host’s bowling and, by the time Sutcliffe had reached 98, was on 88 himself and closing in on his milestone century.

When he was eventually dismissed for 105, the pair had racked up a record seventh-wicket stand of 163 in 158 minutes.

Taylor then celebrated with the new ball, taking five for 86 as India replied with 380, in what was eventually a drawn result. To demonstrate this was no flash in the pan – he followed that up with five for 26 in the next Test as India were bowled out for 88.

A tall, lean man with long levers, Taylor bowled brisk fast-medium with a high action and was an aggressive batsman, not averse to depositing the ball wide of off-stump high and handsome over the legside.

As an all-rounder he was, on his day, the equal of any other who has played for New Zealand, Sir Richard Hadlee and John R Reid included.

His first two first-class hundreds were both scored in Tests. At Eden Park in 1969 he made 124 against West Indies (after coming in at 152 for six) which was then the fastest Test 100 for New Zealand in terms of both balls and minutes.

Taylor was at his world-class best on the 1971-72 tour of the West Indies when, in a series dominated by batsmen, he took 27 wickets in four Tests at 17.70, and averaged 38.00 with the bat.

One of his very best innings was a rear-guard in the fifth Test of this series when, with New Zealand teetering at 188 for seven; no hope of winning and almost two hours to go, Taylor (42* in 106m) and Ken Wadsworth (40* in 143m) saved the day and the series.

During that series he also became the first New Zealand bowler to take seven wickets in a Test innings.

He went on to play 30 Tests, capturing 111 wickets at 26.60 and scoring 898 runs at 20.41. On his last tour of England, in 1973, he played two ODIs.

Taylor played for Canterbury from 1964-65 to 1969-70, and for Wellington from 1970-71 to 1979-80.

His highest first-class score was 173 for Wellington against Otago in the summer of 1972-73.

Once his playing days had finished, Taylor filled selection roles for Otago, Wellington and New Zealand, and had a hand in selecting the New Zealand squad for the 1992 ICC World Cup.

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