A free-flowing strokemaker, Taylor has invariably carried the ‘weight of expectations’ of a largely inexperienced side on his broad shoulders over the past eleven years.
And fittingly, he left an indelible mark on his farewell international fixture against defending champions India, slamming a rollicking 110-ball-138 studded with 15 fours and one six, at Eden Park in Auckland. His knock even raised visions of pulling the plug on the in-form Indians when Zimbabwe had them in a spot of bother with four wickets down for 92. The fact that MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina scuppered all plans of Zimbabwe of pulling off a famous win in Taylor’s farewell game was largely owing to their butter-fingered fielders, who grassed crucial catches, allowing the Indians to maintain their winning streak.
Spare a thought for Taylor – what a knock it was! He literally played every shot in the book that would regale the lovers of the shorter version. Striding out with his team in a deep hole at 33 for 3, Taylor did not press the ‘panic button’ and took his time consuming nine balls before opening his account. Once he got his eye in, the Eden Park crowd was treated to some scintillating strokeplay. The right-hander was at his imperious best, essaying shots down the ground, chipping down the wicket to the spinners, executing the sweep shot regularly, and not to speak of reverse sweep which he employed so effectively.
Severe on Indian spinners
Brendan Taylor was severe on the Indian spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja – taking them to the cleaners. The Zimbabwean skipper took 24 off Jadeja in the 41st over – just emphasizing that he was ‘partying hard’ at the Eden Park.
It is pertinent to point out that this is not the first time that a frontline Zimbabwe cricketer has called it quits at a much early age than one would have hoped for. We have seen how the likes of Andy Flower, Henry Olonga, Murray Goodwin, Neil Johnson, Kyle Jarvis, Sean Ervine decided to step aside to seek greener pastures outside Zimbabwe for various reasons, including run-ins with the Zimbabwean cricket board.
All these players mentioned above were hugely missed by Zimbabwe and the big question is: how much will the red brigade miss Brendan Taylor? Former Zimbabwean seamer and television commentator Mpumelelo Mbangwa feels that Taylor’s absence will leave a ‘big hole’ in the national side and even rates Taylor as the country’s best cricketer. Of course, Zimbabwe had produced the likes of Dave Houghton and Andy Flower and to say that Brendan Taylor is the country’s best cricketer will be a tad unfair. Having said that, one cannot deny that Taylor will be remembered as one of the best servants of Zimbabwean cricket.
County stint for Brendan Taylor
Brendan Taylor is taking up a three-year county stint with Nottinghamshire, which could qualify him to play for England after three years. For now, he may not like to think too far ahead, but focus on his immediate goals. Yes, Taylor commands a lot of respect not just among his team-mates but also among the opposition. We all saw how the likes of Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina walked towards him after his marathon century, which speak volumes about Taylor, the man, whom Zimbabwe will miss sorely!