Cricket; Testing time for Taylor

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The Independent Online
Mark Taylor, whose position as Australia captain for the Ashes series in England this summer is under threat, yesterday admitted his form is giving cause for concern.

The 32-year-old's place in the Test team is hanging by a thread after a series of miserable performances with the bat despite becoming the first Australian skipper to win back-to-back series against the West Indies.

Taylor managed only 153 runs at an average of 17 in the five-match Test series. Another failure in the forthcoming three-Test series in South Africa could see Steve Waugh receive the call to lead the Australians against England in the summer.

"I am out of form," Taylor admitted. "There is no doubt about that. It's amazing that when you are out of form you get really good balls, get run out and everything happens. When you are in form you play and miss, and probably run the batsman out at the other end."

When asked how many more low scores he needed before the selectors dropped him, Taylor responded testily: "Ask them."

But he did admit his form was being affected by a lack of confidence rather than a problem with his technique, saying: "I think a lot of it is in the mind, although I believe you can overcome that by working on other things and getting things moving. You work on the physical side, the mental side comes with it."

Taylor has gone 15 innings without a half-century. His last big score was 96 in the first Test against Sri Lanka in 1995-96 and his recent record is the worst by an Australian captain.

"I am looking forward to getting to South Africa, getting on tour, getting away from the added pressure of an Australian summer, being at home," Taylor said. Taylor has won 13 of his 24 Tests as captain, including five series, three at home against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the West Indies in the past 13 months.

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