After only a handful of first class matches the young Bruce Taylor found himself elevated to the New Zealand national cricket team and on a plane to India with many of his boyhood heroes. It was 1965 and the ‘quintessential tall all-rounder’ was selected for the Second Test at Eden Gardens in Calcutta, after a late call up when Barry Sinclair fell ill. It was a stellar start to his international career, scoring 105 coming in at #8 and taking five wickets for 86 runs.
Fifty-five years on he is still the only player in test cricket to have achieved the debutant double-a century and a ‘fifer’ in their first test. He would go on to play a further 29 Tests, scoring nearly 900 runs at an incredible strike rate of 488 and taking 22 wickets at an average just over 20 plus two ODI’s before retiring in 1973. An aggressive left-hand batsman and right-arm fast medium bowler with a high arm action than made him a very dangerous attack weapon, generating seam movement and bounce. His highest test score was 124 off 83 balls against the formidable West Indies side at Eden Park in Auckland in July 1973, going from 38 to 50 in two hits, straight driving the legendary Garry Sobers into the big stand twice in a row. After his playing days were over he became a selector for Wellington, Otago and the national teams.
Sadly, Bruce died today at the age of 77.
Cricket New Zealand, in acknowledging his passing, described him as a ‘force of nature’ and the many media obits referred to him as a ‘genius’ and one of New Zealand’s great cricketers.
I drew this sketch of ‘Tails’ as part of a Best NZ XI series sometime in the 1990s, which he signed.