August 17, 2000

Kiwi great back in selection role

Back in the cricket fold, Bruce Taylor has a specific mission in mind in his role as a selector for Wellington.

The former international all-rounder wants to see younger Wellington players bridging the gap from promise in age-group cricket to performing on the first-class scene, and higher.

While involved in selecting the Wellington Firebirds Shell Cup and Trophy sides, he will have special responsibility for the Wellington 'B' team in the reinstated national 2nd XI competition.

Taylor told CricInfo that after being approached to consider a position as selector, he realised he missed being away from the game. He had taken up lawn bowls and had been enjoying playing at his club in the Miramar suburb of Wellington.

But he also retained an interest in young players he had coached in the mid-1990s who were now coming through to senior ranks.

"I became disillusioned with cricket and decided I would take a break. But a few of the fellows I coached are starting to come through.

"The talent has always been around in Wellington but for some reason that talent has not been pushing on with it.

"I was pleased to see [off-spinner] Jeetan Patel and [medium-fast bowler] Mark Gillespie given a chance last year. Grant Donaldson took his chance the previous season and Mayu Pasupati the year before that."

"I believe I have got a reasonable eye for talent and if I see a player I will push him forward," Taylor said.

Pushing New Zealand players is important to Taylor, and he would far rather see talented New Zealand cricketers moving around the provinces looking to play representative cricket than players being brought in from overseas.

"And if there are two New Zealand players pushing for a position in a side then I would tend to go for the home-grown player," he said.

His duties with the Wellington 2nd XI will be important in the revamped competition.

"In the past, the 2nd XI tournament has been a bit hit and miss with the consistency of players being available," he said.

The fact that Wellington players will no longer be involved in Hawke Cup elimination games over the same time as the 2nd XI tournament is being played will be an advantage.

"I'm not sorry to see the Hawke Cup go. I always thought it was a tournament for minor associations and that's the way it should stay," he said.

Taylor's return brings a healthy dose of cricket knowledge to the Wellington panel where he will work with coach Vaughn Johnson and Greg Hooper.

While he made his early mark in cricket with Canterbury, from 1964/54-1969/70, Taylor then moved to Wellington where he played from 1970/71-1979/80. In that time he led Wellington through an outstanding era which laid the foundation for a strong Wellington team which developed during the 1980s.

He had an outstanding record for New Zealand taking 111 test wickets at 26.60, with a career-best performance of 7-74 against the West Indies in 1972. A prolific big-hitter of the ball, he scored two Test centuries, including one against India when he became the first player to score a century and take a five wicket bag on Test debut.

During his 30-Test career he hit 898 runs at 20.41.

After ending his playing career when helping Wellington secure a first-class win over the touring West Indians in 1979/80, Taylor moved to Dunedin where he served as an Otago selector before moving on to national duties.

He helped choose the New Zealand team, which made such an impact in the 1992 World Cup staged in Australia and New Zealand.