Brendan Ross Murray Taylor
February 06, 1986, Harare
Right hand Bat
Right arm Offbreak
Brendan Taylor, a wicketkeeper-batter and statistically one of the finest players that Zimbabwe has ever produced, possibly grabbed the headlines more after his retirement than he had ever done with his many exploits during his playing days. In January 2022, four months after having retired, he shocked the cricketing world with a disturbing Twitter post on how corruptors tried to trap him in late 2019 with a combination of cocaine and blackmail. While he emphasised he never fixed, he said he had delayed reporting the approach to the ICC for fear of his family's well-being and expected to be banned for this by the governing body. He was duly banned for this delay by the ICC, from all cricket, for three and a half years from January 28, 2022.
In the same Twitter post, Taylor pointed out how the uncertainty around being a cricketer in Zimbabwe pushed him to meet the corruptors, whom he thought were Indian businessmen interested in sponsorship deals and running a T20 league in the country. He said he had not been paid for six month prior to that fateful meeting where he was offered cocaine. The corruptors filmed him taking it and later threatened to release the footage to the world unless Taylor spot-fixed for them. Fearing for his life, he took the USD 15,000 they offered him and returned home to Zimbabwe. He reported the approach to the ICC four months later.
At the same time, Taylor also outlined his struggles with substance abuse, and said he would be going into rehab. In an interview that followed, he also admitted to having failed a drugs test after his final international game, an ODI against Ireland on September 13, 2021.
Before all this, Taylor had briefly abandoned Zimbabwe's international set-up after the 2015 World Cup. Disillusioned with international cricket and having fallen out with then-coach Stephen Mangongo, he signed a three-year Kolpak deal with Nottinghamshire which made him ineligible to play for Zimbabwe while that contract was in effect. But, midway through his final season at Notts he gained permission for an early release, citing homesickness: his wife Kelly had remained in Zimbabwe with their four young sons. And so at 31, he returned to Test cricket, against West Indies in Bulawayo, nearly three years after his previous innings.
In the decade that followed his debut in April 2004, Taylor was involved in almost every ODI - the format Zimbabwe played most often - his country took part in. He was appointed captain after the 2011 World Cup, as Zimbabwe worked towards a return from a self-imposed exile from Test cricket. He led them to a successful Test comeback later that year, in which he also scored his maiden century, and to a win over Pakistan a month later.
Under Taylor, Zimbabwe seemed a renewed force, despite a sparse fixture list and struggles away from home. As one of the senior-most players in the squad, Taylor played an important part in unifying the players in their off-field battles over unpaid salaries and the formation of a players' association.
The additional responsibility of captaincy, which he had always fancied, worked wonders for his batting, as he scored four centuries in his first seven Tests in charge, after scoring none in his ten previous Tests. He also scored hundreds in each innings against Bangladesh in Harare in 2013, thus becoming the first from Zimbabwe, and the 12th in all, to achieve this feat.
Taylor shot to prominence at Cape Town on September 12, 2007, his ice-cool 60 not out carrying Zimbabwe to an incredible five-wicket win over Australia in the ICC World Twenty20. Taylor marshalled a tense run-chase with the sort of sang froid that few had ever credited him with.
As a young cricketer, he was nurtured by Iain Campbell, father of Alistair, at the well-known Lilfordia primary school near Harare, was a regular choice for national age-group teams and played in two Under-19 World Cups.
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