Taylor stands by his 'great players' (11 December 1998)

11 December 1998

Taylor stands by his 'great players'

By Christopher Martin-Jenkins

THE leadership of Mark Taylor has been based on strong principles and his moral strength, never pretentiously flaunted but evident in all he has done since taking over as Australia's captain four years ago, was never better demonstrated than it was yesterday when his turn came to face the media on the betting scandal which has diverted attention from the start of the third Test in Adelaide.

When Taylor says, as he did, that he truly believes there are no other skeletons in the Australian cupboard, all are inclined to believe him. There is an obvious integrity behind his bluff approach to every question. "My feelings about Shane [Warne] and Mark [Waugh] are exactly the same as they were at the time. They made a mistake and admitted that mistake. The ACB handled the matter in the way they thought it should be handled. The ramifications would have been the same if it had been made public at the time. It would have created the same media storm then.

"As their captain then and now, I have no problem in playing with either player. Their records show that they have been great players for Australia and I certainly hope that continues for a lot longer yet. It worried me at the time because they had compromised themselves by what they did, but I knew they hadn't done anything to try and harm Australia's chances.

"People are allowed to make mistakes, but it's not fair to put Mark and Shane in the same bracket as what's been going on in Pakistan. They spoke to a certain person on the phone, giving the same sort of information as I've just given the press about Ian Healy's fitness, and they received some money for it. As soon as that was found out, they were told to stop it, and they haven't done it since. Mark and Shane have always liked to have a bet, so they were an easy target."

"People can always find a case against the Australian evidence, but the most damning evidence throughout the whole case has come from the other Pakistani players. An ICC investigation sounds very good but I don't think the individual countries will be prepared to make the ICC the judge and jury."

Switching to the present, Taylor said that he did not think the rumpus would affect his team in the current match. "The amount of publicity will make it hard for Mark, but he has to go out and treat it as another Test match. He has my support and the support of all the players. Two guys took a fast buck, but nothing more than that. We have to get this matter into perspective."

Source :: Electronic Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)