Mark Taylor (cricketer) : biography
Solid form for NSW in 1988–89 resulted in Taylor’s selection for his Test debut in the Fourth Test against the West Indies at the SCG, replacing middle-order batsman Graeme Wood. For three years, the opening combination of Geoff Marsh and David Boon had been successful for Australia. However, team coach Bob Simpson wanted a left and right-handed opening combination, and stability added to the middle order. Therefore, the left-handed Taylor partnered the right-handed Marsh, while Boon batted at number three.Perry, p. 334. Taylor’s safe catching at slip was also a factor in his selection. He made 25 and 3 in a winning team, then was run out twice in the Fifth Test. A first-class aggregate of 1,241 runs (at 49.64 average) for the season earned him a place on the 1989 Ashes tour.
Beginning with a century at Headingley in his First Test against England, Taylor amassed 839 runs at 83.90 in the six Tests: the second best aggregate in an Ashes series in England, behind Don Bradman’s 974 runs in 1930. He occupied the crease for a total of 38 hours, more than six full days of play. The highlight of his tour was the Fifth Test at Trent Bridge when he and Geoff Marsh became the first pair to bat throughout a day’s play of Test cricket in England, amassing 301 runs. Taylor made 219 in a partnership of 329, an Ashes record. He finished with 71 and 48 in the Sixth Test to overtake Neil Harvey for the third-highest series aggregate in Test history and totalled 1,669 first-class runs for the tour. Australia won the series 4–0 to regain the Ashes. However, Taylor was overlooked for selection in the ODIs.
Returning to Australia, Taylor made 1,403 first-class runs at 70.15 during the 1989–90 season, and ended 1989 with 1,219 Test runs, thus becoming the first player to better one thousand Test runs in his debut calendar year, something only matched once by England opener Alastair Cook over 15 years later. In Taylor’s first nine Tests, Australia passed 400 in the first innings. He scored centuries in successive Tests against Sri Lanka, and against Pakistan his scores were 52 and 101 at the MCG, 77 and 59 at the Adelaide Oval and an unbeaten 101 at Sydney. Australia won both series 1–0. In just over twelve months, he had amassed 1,618 runs at 70.35. This outstanding start to his career earned Taylor nomination as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1990. At the season’s end, he demonstrated his leadership abilities for the first time. Standing in as NSW captain in place of the injured Geoff Lawson for the 1989–90 Sheffield Shield final in Sydney, Taylor scored 127 and 100. NSW won by 345 runs to secure its 40th title.Piesse, p. 17.
A year after his Test debut, Taylor was selected to make his ODI debut, which came on Boxing Day of 1989 against Sri Lanka. He made 11 as Australia won by 30 runs. He was selected for nine of Australia’s ten ODIs for the season’s triangular tournament, scoring 294 runs at 32.66 with two half-centuries. His highest score of 76 came as Australia defeated Pakistan by 69 runs to clinch the finals series in Sydney. The season ended with ODI tournaments in New Zealand and Sharjah. He played six of the eight matches, scoring 222 runs at 37.00 with two half-centuries, but was dropped for the final in New Zealand.
Taylor experienced a slump during the 1990–91 Ashes series. After making two-half centuries in the first two Tests, he failed to pass 20 in the last three and finished with 213 runs at 23.66 in a team that won 3–0. He found himself on the outer for the ODI triangular tournament, missing all eight of the preliminary matches before returning to score 41 and 71 as Australia won the finals 2–0.
His moderate form continued during the 1991 tour of the West Indies, where he was selected in only two of the five ODIs, scoring three and five. He ended the run with a rear-guard innings of 76 in the second innings of the Fourth Test at Barbados. Despite his effort, Australia lost and the West Indies took an unassailable lead of 2–0. In the Fifth Test St. Johns, Antigua, Australia gained a consolation victory due mainly to Taylor’s scores of 59 and 144 (out of a total of 265). This late rush of form boosted his average for the series to 49. In late 1991, before the Australian season started, Taylor was appointed to lead an Australia A side to tour Zimbabwe. The team was composed of younger Test players and other young players who were seeking to break into international cricket. The selectors were attempting to groom Taylor as a potential replacement for Border.Perry (1999), p. 38.