BRENDAN Taylor’s last innings in international cricket will forever be etched in the memories of Zimbabwean cricket fans, as the elegant wicket-keeper batsman stole the limelight with some scintillating performances at the 2015 ICC World Cup co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Standing in as the national team skipper in the absence of injured captain Elton Chigumbura, Taylor smashed 138 off 110 balls with 15 boundaries and five sixes for his eighth one-day international century as Zimbabwe bossed the defending champions India at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand.
It was Taylor’s second successive 100 at the tournament although it proved too late to save Zimbabwe, whose defeat against Ireland under controversial circumstances a week earlier had already ended their quarter-final hopes.
Taylor’s performances at the World Cup typified his international career, where oftentimes he would almost single-handedly win matches for Zimbabwe or rescue the team from difficult situations.
Sadly, that proved to be Taylor’s last innings for Zimbabwe as he chose to draw curtains on his international career for county career with Nottinghamshire in England.
At the time, Taylor said he had tried to “make the best decision for my family moving forward.”
The loss of Taylor was huge for Zimbabwe and even though they have unearthed quite a few talented players in the past few months, they still missed Taylor’s X-factor, someone who could play an anchor role as well as lead from the front.
However, Taylor did mention that his departure may not be on a permanent basis and that he could return to the fold.
And true to his word, even after two successful years at Trent Bridge highlighted by winning Royal London One Day Cup and the NatWest T20 Blast this year, Taylor recently announced his imminent return and he can’t wait to pick up where he left off.
“I believe my decision to go away has helped me grow as a player and I’m sure I will come back a better player,” Taylor told Sports World in an interview.
“I’m really excited to get stuck in and work with the guys again and I feel that Zimbabwe Cricket is heading in a positive direction again and if I can add some value here and there, that will be great. I’m really looking to get back into the field and representing my country in international cricket, which is the pinnacle for every player and hopefully I can win matches for Zimbabwe again. The goal will be to play in the upcoming test series against West Indies and obviously the World Cup qualifiers early next year,” he said.
Taylor, who has played 23 Tests, 167 One Day Internationals (ODIs) and 26 Twenty20 internationals, will add stability to Zimbabwe’s batting lineup as they brace for a busy schedule, which will culminate in the World Cup qualifiers that Zimbabwe is confident of hosting.
Streak’s men also have series against the Netherlands, Pakistan A and a two-match Test series against the West Indies this year as well as a Boxing Day Test against neighbours South Africa.
Taylor’s imminent return could not have come at a better time for Zimbabwe, who are going through what looks like a revival after a successful tour of Sri Lanka where the Graeme Cremer-led team won 3-2 in an ODI series and nearly beat their hosts in a Test match.
The former Zimbabwe captain reckons the next target will be for the team to achieve greater consistency in their performances.
“I believe the team already has some experienced players, there are guys who are coming up to 200 ODIs and the other guys with less experience are really starting to gel. Guys like Craig Ervine and Sikandar Raza for instance are starting to put up performances together and become more consistent, which is quite positive because consistency has always been an issue with Zimbabwe Cricket” he said.
“We have not been consistent enough as a whole in the past but I think we are starting to find the right balance due to the fact that the team is now starting to play more matches, so there’s some momentum on their side, unlike the stop-start system which we used to have in the past.”
Taylor is also encouraged by the tremendous strides made on the administration front and believes the appointments of former captains Streak and Tatenda Taibu to key positions have brought stability in the local game.
Former ICC chief financial officer Faisal Hasnain has also joined Zimbabwe Cricket as the managing director.
“I think it (the administration of local cricket), is as healthy as it has ever been and I believe the appointment of the new managing director is a very positive step. He (Hasnain) is obviously working closely with the chairman (Tavengwa Mukuhlani) as well as Tatenda Taibu and Heath Streak to ensure that we play more cricket and I believe things can only continue to get better,” Taylor said.
Brendan Taylor Fact file:
Full name: Brendan Ross Murray Taylor
Born: February 6 1986, Harare
Current age: 31 years 228 days
Playing role: Wicketkeeper batsman
Batting style: Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm offbreak
Fielding position: Wicketkeeper
ODI debut (cap 80): April 20 2004 v Sri Lanka
Test debut (cap 64): May 6 2004 v Sri Lanka
Last ODI: March 14 2015 v India