Cricket: Taylor's trouble

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The Independent Online
AUSTRALIA have not only batted and bowled better than England this summer, they have also been some way ahead of their opponents in the field.

One of the features here has been the dependable, unfussy catching of Mark Taylor at first slip.

He is the latest in a long line of fine Australian first slips. Two of the most recent were at The Oval yesterday: Bobby Simpson, who as Australia's cricket manager has made such a significant contribution to their present success, and Ian Chappell who was giving his admirably incisive views from the television commentary box.

Taylor is not a demonstrative slip fielder, he has a reliable pair of hands, a good sense of anticipation and a predatory instinct for the job. It came as a surprise, therefore, when he dropped Mike Atherton with what seemed a relatively straightforward chance off Merv Hughes.

Atherton played a late cut which did not quite come off. He went back to cut a ball which may have been a fraction too close for him for comfort and also just too far up. When the batsman plays forward the slips have a good sight of the contact which is made five or six feet in front of the stumps. When on the back foot it is made later and when late cutting even later still. Hughes is no slouch, the ball flew quickly off the bat and when watching the replays one could see Taylor's late reaction - as a result of the stroke. This was one of the rare occasions when Taylor's hands were not so much a continuation of his arms as awkward accessories.