It was hard to digest the statement from Nottingham which revealed that James Taylor’s life had irrevocably changed: Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (a heart disease cutting away at the tissue) had usurped the career of a diminutive man with the heart of a lion. He was still in jovial spirits, taking to Twitter to sooth the shocking announcement. It was bitter news, but at least, he was still alive.
He was a revolting cutter and puller, making the piffling changes needed for a man not robust in stature. He was a glistening prospect as England’s next captain after toiling hard to iron out his flaws, and who would not want his personifying mellowness?
Taylor had the potential to be a magnificent captain. He had a shrewd and wily cricket brain, was the nuggety batsman who let the bat do the talking, had exquisite match-awareness, and there wasn’t any animosity between him and his team-mates. What more could you want?
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Mike Newell, Nottingham's director, was quick to shower praise on him: "He is a model professional, the most hard-working I've ever known in cricket, making it all the more difficult to accept that his career has been cut short in this way.
"It goes without saying that he has the very best wishes of us all in terms of recovering from his operation and that we are looking forward to seeing him back at Trent Bridge when he is fit and able."
England missed the trick by hesitating whether to unleash the petite Taylor in test cricket or to persist with the scrapping middle-order batsman of old, lacking the bravado to say to him to play with freedom in the top-order, and potholing his brutal back-foot impromptu.
He never nailed down a test spot due to the impudent handling of Taylor by the selectors, but he ceased to amaze with exhilarating jabs at the opposition. It was always a senate push that manifested the runs as the ball sped away to the boundary like a race-horse on fire; never did he need to put on an extravaganza, or amaze.
He ambushed the penny-stricken bowlers like no other petite-man-like-heroics, or how ambiguous youngsters can manage. Yet he still ate humble pie.
An infectious and feisty personality off the field, England’s innings revolved around Taylor spurring on the score. Prodigious off the back-foot, bouncers are often ill-judged and dealt with traumatically, but his ire is protected by effortless cuts and pulls. Taylor was a bowlers’ nightmare. He is anything but brash and notorious; the self-esteemed serenity of a youngster bullying bowlers.
Taylor was the bubbly warm teddy bear that you wouldn’t think could be ridiculed by the beastly ARCV, and a spontaneous batsman, slaughtering bowlers from the onset with his prudent jabs. Anything short was bread and butter; he would exhilarate with his impromptu flawlessness in deftly guiding the ball. And never did he shy away from a challenge.
Most England fans will vividly remember the way he embraced what turned out to be a fruitful summer for the feisty batsman from Nottinghamshire, and the dreaded South-African pacers, while in for gluttony against the spinners, using his nimble feet to dance to the ball, and picturesquely lift the ball over the top. In his nuggety and meticulous way, he mustered the necessary runs in the absence of Gary Ballance, the last of the stagnant methodical batsman that England hovered with.
Yet there was a superstition that the full ball on off stump would endorse for his sorrowful dismissals, but he found savvy ways to counter it and stylishly made the most of his exquisite form.
His catches at short-leg were extravagant; his electric reflexes mustering catches with ease, and he became the hosts’ nemesis within the space of a month.
At 26, he was one of the most colourful characters at short-leg, ferocious back-foot bravado, yet mellow. He was ready to slaughter a pitiful Pakistan side after a glistening county season, with his bullish jabs manifesting his runs, and was in the prime of his career.
It is sorrowful, a damn shame, that his career was distastefully ended at 26, but, as they say, everything happens for a reason.
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