Cricket / Second Test: Taylor's comeback tale

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The Independent Online
WHEN Australia pulled an unknown off spinner out of the hat for the fifth Test of the 1986-87 Ashes series, Peter Taylor was instantly immortalised as 'Peter Who?'. Some may contend that Paul Taylor warrants a similar sobriquet: 'Paul Why?'

The last time New Zealand played a Test at Lord's, Taylor was working in an electrical goods store. That he has contrived to win one cap, let alone yesterday's second, is not to be sniffed at.

He is accustomed to second chances. Sacked by Derbyshire in 1987, the left-armer was retrieved from obscurity by Northamptonshire in 1991. A year later, he was flying out to India, pinching himself all the way. He played in the first Test in Calcutta, taking one wicket, whereupon a black hole beckoned. He bowled just 65.4 first-class overs in all.

Yesterday, Taylor became only the second Northamptonshire fast bowler to play for England at HQ, a feat beyond even Frank Tyson. He owed his selection to Mark Ilott's groin injury and Mike Atherton's reluctance to entrust the third seamer's berth to Craig White. Yet by mid afternoon, White had bowled more overs.

Summoned after an hour, Taylor began with a no-ball, conceded three boundaries to Ken Rutherford in his second over and was relieved after the fifth. The approach was smooth, the action high, the luck out. Returning shortly before tea, he came close to trapping Shane Thomson on 13, the delivery holding its line and probably drifting past off stump. Thomson promptly sliced him through the slips then fractionally clear of White's outstretched fingers in the gully. Half a dozen no-balls did not help his equilibrium.

Keith Fletcher felt Taylor erred too often on the leg side. 'But you've got to defend the lad,' the manager added. 'It was his first Test in England. Still, he's got that first day out of the way now.' Another day, another second chance.