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'Tonker' Taylor passes away aged 84

Brian Taylor Getty Images

Brian Taylor, the former Essex captain and England selector, has died aged 84. Known as "Tonker", for his entertaining approach to batting, Taylor made 539 first-class appearances for Essex - second only to Keith Fletcher - and remained a popular figure around the club, where he was an honorary life vice-president.

Taylor's professional career began in 1949 and ran until 1973, although he missed two seasons while completing his national service. An attacking batsman and reliable wicketkeeper, he led Essex from 1967 and was one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year in 1972. With 1295 dismissal in first-class cricket, he is seventh on the all-time list.

He was never capped by England but did serve as Godfrey Evans' understudy on the 1956-57 tour of South Africa. The emergence of Jim Parks and Alan Knott after Evans' retirement hampered his chances but he was an inspirational and good-humoured presence at Essex, where he made 301 consecutive appearances between 1961 and 1972.

His batting "alternated between the dazzling and the baffling", according to Wisden, but he made more than 19,000 first-class runs, with nine hundreds, as well as 1837 after the advent of List A cricket. "I suppose it's right to say that if I'd taken more care with my batting I would have got far better results," he said. "But I, and perhaps the crowds, have had more enjoyment at the way I have batted."

A good footballer, he played for Brentford, Bexley United - for whom he was also manager - and Dover.

After his retirement, Taylor served as an England selector from 1973-74 before becoming heavily involved in schools cricket across Essex. A keen supporter, he regularly attended matches at Chelmsford, including taking a taxi to the ground to celebrate Essex's promotion in 2016.