Taylor the embodiment of ``A time to enter and a time to leave'' (11 February 1999)

11 February 1999

Taylor the embodiment of "A time to enter and a time to leave"

Richard Dwight

Every now and then, in the world of cricket, there comes along a cricketer of intrinsic value, who by his contribution adorns cricket's firmament - to the extent, that the game through it all, becomes enriched and enhanced to acquire a special kind of lustre, ensuring stability and as well a measure of continuity.

Different periods in cricket history could therefore, be identified and associated with an array of brilliant cricketers, who on making an indelible impression, leave the game the better, for their having taken part in it.

One such cricketer who deservedly has claims to being recognised and remembered thus, is the outgoing cricket captain of Australia, Mark Taylor. There was nothing spectacular or flamboyant about him - But yet, apart from being a leading opening batsman, a fine slip fielder and a shrewd skipper, he was held in high esteem and became increasingly popular by his exemplary conduct and attitude both on and off the field.

However, there were times in the present day cricket environment, where he, in the parry and thrust and the heat of it all in the middle, lost his cool, but it was all over and forgotten at the end of play. Truly a fine representative, exercising high diplomacy in the name and cause of country, which earned for him the 'Australian of the year' award. He was indeed a complete cricketer, having had the experience of both success and failure scoring centuries and going away at times scoreless, taking many a great catch and dropping a few, of making the right decisions and the wrong ones as well.

This verily is the essence of cricket, part and parcel so to say and, one hasn't learnt much, if one hasn't gone through these phases. In Taylor's cricket career, spanning a period of eleven years, the last six as captain - two outstanding performances come vividly to mind.

One was, when he with his motivating ability and the knack of getting the best out of his players, brought down the '15 year' reign of the West Indies in 1995, to regain the Frank Worrell trophy. On that occasion riding the crest of a wave he stoops down to humbly say "We are champions true, but if the West Indies comes over next summer and beat us, then they are champs or if Pakistan were to do that, then they are champs" - indeed a profound statement typical of the man, which clearly showed that the true spirit of the game had got into his system.

The other is his highly sacrificial gestures, the like of which has not been hitherto witnessed on the international level of cricket - where Taylor on reaching Bradman's record of 334 against Pakistan turned his back on the overwhelming tempting prospect of personal glory of superceding Bradman or getting past Brain Lara's world record of 375. His decision to declare the innings closed at that point may have been out of a concern for Bradman and the wider interest of the team and country. Not many we guess, would think and act thus. And now to crown it all, comes the manner and stage in which he through his own volition chose to leave the international cricket scene - with everything going well for him and Australia, right at his peak, where his absence and sense of loss will be felt, he unselfishly steps down and makes way for another.

Many will associate his point of going with success and not failure, where he has outlived his period of usefulness. This is the ideal way of laying down the reins, the hallmark of a fine leader worthy of emulation, not only in the field of cricket but others as well. Cricket is undoubtedly a great game and it will continue to grow as long as there are men like Taylor, putting something worthwhile into it. Yes, "There is a time to enter and a time to leave".

Source :: Daily News (http://www.lanka.net)