Cricket captain refuses to pass record set by Bradman (18 October 1998)

18 October 1998

Cricket captain refuses to pass record set by Bradman

By Tim Reid

Mark Taylor appeals for lbw on Pakistani batsman Ijaz AhmedMARK Taylor, the Australian cricket captain, made perhaps the most selfless decision in Test match history yesterday when he spurned the chance to beat Sir Donald Bradman's batting record for the highest individual score by an Australian.

Taylor hit an unbeaten 334 against Pakistan in the second Test in Peshawar to match Bradman's 334 made against England at Headingley, Leeds, in 1930, but magnanimously declared Australia's innings closed before the resumption of the third day's play yesterday.

He also gave up his chance of beating West Indian Brian Lara's world record of 375. Taylor indicated yesterday that he wished to remain side by side in the record books with Bradman, regarded by many as the world's greatest ever batsman, who retired in 1948 with a peerless Test average of 99.94.

The Australian team held a vote on Friday night and decided that Taylor should bat on. He ignored it, timing the declaration to give the Australians the best opportunity of bowling out Pakistan twice, thus securing a series victory. Australia won the first Test of the three-match series. Taylor said: "I have equalled Sir Donald Bradman's record and that is more than satisfying for me. The [Brian Lara] record doesn't mean anything. I'd prefer to win this game, that's what I'm here for."

The wonderful innings, and a declaration of 599 for four which put the team cause ahead of his own record hopes, brought tributes from around the world, most notably from Sir Donald himself, who has made few public comments since his retirement.

Sir Donald, 90, released a statement through a spokesman, saying: "I want to congratulate Mark Taylor on his achievement. I wish him the very best of luck." Sir Donald had been unable to watch Taylor's innings from his Adelaide home because he was feeling ill, but was full of admiration for the performance.

Australian newspapers, television and radio were dominated by Taylor's innings, and the public was consumed with speculation on whether he declare.

The Australian coach, Geoff Marsh, said that Taylor, known by team mates as Tubby, had made a great sacrifice for the team. "A lot of the guys wanted him to bat on but Tubby put the team before his own record," Marsh said.

Only 16 months ago former Australian cricket greats, such as the fast bowler Dennis Lillee and former captains Greg and Ian Chappell, were telling Taylor that his career was over and that he should retire. He had gone for 20 consecutive innings without a half century and was in the worst slump of any Australian captain in history. But the team remained successful, his players backed him, and his form slowly returned, beginning with a century during the first Test at Headingley against England in 1996.

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

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