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Tuesday, February 2, 1999 Published at 14:36 GMT


Sport: Cricket

Tubby takes a bow

Mark 'Tubby' Taylor: Cricket is sure to miss him

Timing has always played an important part in Mark Taylor's life.

Even in the most testing moments, Taylor always seemed to know the right moment to act.

So, it came as no real surprise when Taylor announced that he had decided to stand down as captain of Australia's cricket team.

"I know I've made the right decision," Taylor told a packed media conference in Sydney.

"I feel that my heart is not quite in it and if it is not in it I won't do well."


[ image: Taylor made his debut in 1989]
Taylor made his debut in 1989
Taylor chose to retire at a time when he was at the top of his game. A respected player and captain, Taylor could have continued for several years.

His decision, like most of the tough choices that marked his captaincy, was dignified and perfectly timed.

A reliable left-handed opening batsman and brilliant slips fieldsman, Taylor made his Test debut against West Indies in Sydney in 1989 and went on to play 104 Tests.

He finished his career against England in the fifth and final Ashes Test in Sydney last month, leading Australia to a record sixth series win over their oldest rivals.

An all time great

During his career, Taylor scored a total of 7,525 Test runs - the second highest by any Australian - at an average of 43.50, scoring 19 centuries and taking a world record 157 catches.

He replaced Allan Border as Australian captain in May 1994 and went on to lead his country in 50 Tests, for 26 wins, 11 draws and 13 losses.


[ image: Taylor's form slumped during 1996 - but he recovered]
Taylor's form slumped during 1996 - but he recovered
His statistics rank him as one of the greats of Australian cricket but it was the way that Taylor fought his way out of a career-threatening form slump that endeared to him fans around the world.

After a brilliant start to his Test career, which led him to the country's highest honour in sport, Taylor's career was on the rocks when he suffered an 18-month loss of batting form that started in late December 1995 and went on until early June 1997.

It led to widespread calls for his sacking and Taylor himself even admitted he was so worried about his form that he wanted to retire.

He was chosen to lead Australia on the 1997 Ashes tour of England against a murmur of protest from past players but still looked certain to be dropped from the team after his form slump continued.

Return to form

Just when it looked as though his Test-playing days might be over, Taylor ended his crisis with a courageous innings of 129 in the second innings of the first Ashes test at Edgbaston, Birmingham.

It quite literally saved his career and, remarkably, marked the start of a dramatic return to form as Taylor scored centuries in each of Australia's next four Test series, against New Zealand, South Africa, India and Pakistan.


[ image: Taylor: equalled Don Bradman's 334]
Taylor: equalled Don Bradman's 334
But his crowning moment came in October last year when he equalled Don Bradman's 334 for the highest score by an Australian in Test cricket.

Known affectionately as "Tubby" because of his bulging waistline, Taylor gave up the chance to pass Bradman and go for Brian Lara's world record 375 in one of the most unselfish gestures in cricket history.

It proved to be his last Test hundred and the defining moment of a distinguished career but Taylor, typically, played down his achievements.

He gave the first real hint that he planned to retire when he wore his baggy green cap on the final day of the fifth Ashes Test last month instead of the wide brimmed white cap he usually wears.

But rather than announce his retirement moments after leading Australia to victory, Taylor, who was named last week as Australian Of the Year, decided to wait because he did not want to appear to be "grandstanding".

"I have achieved more in this game than I thought I would," Taylor said on Tuesday. "I have gained more from cricket than I have given cricket.

"I am not leaving sad, I am leaving it happy and I am looking forward to the next few years."



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