Taylor keen on touring (26 December 1998)

26 December 1998

Taylor keen on touring

By Richard Bright in Melbourne

MARK Taylor says he would like to tour the West Indies with Australia next year after all. The Australian captain previously only committed himself to the current Ashes series but now says he wants to settle a personal challenge.

Taylor explained that he wants to rectify a poor batting record against the West Indian fast bowlers Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Ian Bishop. Australia tour the Caribbean for a four-Test series starting next March.

Taylor, whose Test average is around 44, has a batting average of 28.11 against the West Indies in 20 Tests - his lowest against all the Test-playing countries. Ambrose has taken his wicket nine times, Bishop seven and Walsh six.

"I'm fairly sure I'll go to the West Indies if the selectors pick me," Taylor said. "I'm still enjoying playing and the side is playing well with me as captain so provided those two things are maintained I will keep playing.

"The one side I haven't played well against is the West Indies. They have been the one bogey side. I'll be going over there if selected just trying to relax and play the way I would play against any other side."

Taylor has led Australia to 25 victories from 48 Tests since taking over from Allan Border in 1994, a winning rate among the best in the sport's history.

During his positive and adventurous tenure, Australia have become the premier Test-playing nation with series wins over the West Indies, Pakistan, England and South Africa.

Taylor's position has come more into focus with the adverse publicity surrounding his possible replacement, Shane Warne. This follows recent revelations of Warne and Mark Waugh accepting money from an illegal Indian bookmaker during the 1994 trip to Sri Lanka in return for pitch and weather information.

Steve Waugh, who is the national one-day captain, would be well positioned for the Test captaincy as the current vice-captain but not in the long term as he is only one year younger than Taylor at 33. Hence the importance of Taylor's continuing availability.

Taylor admits he has not thought hard about retirement. "I'll just see what happens in the next six months. I'll stop playing when I'm out in the middle and things aren't happening for me with the bat, as a captain or in the field thinking 'what the hell am I doing out here'. That will be the reason I stop playing."

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