Mark Taylor (cricketer) : biography
On the field, the ODI tournament saw Mark Waugh elevated to be Taylor’s ODI opening partner after the axing of Slater mid-way through the season.Piesse, p. 90.Cashman, p. 280. In their first match together in Perth, the pair put on 190??, with Taylor scoring 85. They put on another century stand in the second final, with Taylor scoring 82. Taylor scored heavily in the ODI tournament, with 423 runs at 42.30 with four half-centuries. Australia warmed up for the 1996 Cricket World Cup by winning five of their eight round-robin matches, and taking the finals 2–0, but many of the matches were closely contested. The finals were won by 18 and nine runs respectively, while three of the group matches were decided in the last over.
After the spiteful summer, a Tamil Tiger bombing in Colombo coupled with death threats to some members of the team forced Taylor to forfeit his team’s scheduled World Cup match against Sri Lanka in Colombo.Piesse, p. 95. Taylor made six as Australia started their campaign with a 97-run win over Kenya. He then made 59 in a century stand with Waugh as Australia defeated co-hosts India in Mumbai. Taylor scored 34 in a nine-wicket win over Zimbabwe, before scoring nine in a defeat to the West Indies in the last group match. Australia finished second in their group and faced New Zealand in the quarter-finals. Taylor made only 10 as Australia chased 289 for victory, but made a surprise tactic by sending in Shane Warne as a pinch hitter. Warne made 24 from 15 balls in a partnership with over 42 in 4.3 overs ??? with Waugh, to allow Australia to take the momentum and take victory by six wickets. Taylor managed only one in the semi-final as Australia staggered to 8/207 against the West Indies. Australia appeared to be heading out of the tournament when the Caribbean team reached 2/165, but a sudden collapse saw Australia win by six runs in the last over.
Australia managed to reach the final, where they met Sri Lanka.Piesse, p. 96. Taylor scored 74, a record score by an Australian captain in the World Cup, but Sri Lanka comfortably triumphed on this occasion by seven wickets to claim the trophy. In another spiteful encounter, some players refused to shake hands after the match. Ranatunga, having declared before the match that Australian leg spinner Shane Warne was overrated, struck a six from a misexecuted flipper which turned into a full toss and promptly stuck out his tongue at the spinner.
After the World Cup, Bob Simpson was replaced as Australia’s coach by Geoff Marsh, Taylor’s former opening partner.Piesse, pp. 96–97. Australia’s first tournament after the World Cup was the Singer World Series in Sri Lanka. Taylor opted out of the tournament, and in his absence, Australia reached the final but lost by 50 runs to the hosts.
On a short tour to India, Taylor made his first ODI century at Bangalore, with 105 against India in his 98th match, having been out in the 90s on three previous occasions. Taylor performed strongly in the ODIs, with a total of 302 runs at 60.40. However, it was a disappointing tour for the team; the solitary Test in Delhi was lost, as were all five ODIs played during the Titan Cup.Piesse, p. 104.
In 1996–97, Australia confirmed its ascendancy over the West Indies with a 3–2 series win,Piesse, pp. 220–227. but Taylor endured a poor season with the bat and failed to pass 50 in nine innings. His partnership with Slater was terminated when the latter was dropped, replaced by Matthew Elliott. Following an injury to Elliott, Matthew Hayden became Taylor’s partner for three Tests.
Unable to recover form in the ODI series, Taylor’s scratchy batting led to many poor starts for Australia. The team suffered five consecutive defeats, and missed the finals of the tournament for the first time in 17 years. Taylor managed only 143 runs at 17.88 with a highest score of 29.
The early 1997 tour to South Africa brought no upturn in Taylor’s batting despite Australia’s 2–1 victory in the series: he scored 80 runs at 16.00. His form was such that it influenced the selection of the team. For the Second Test at Port Elizabeth, played on a green pitch, Australia played Michael Bevan as a second spinner batting at number seven to reinforce the batting, instead of a third seamer to exploit the conditions.Piesse, pp. 121–123. After scoring seven and 17 in the first two ODIs, Taylor dropped himself from the team for the remaining five matches.Piesse, p. 130.