Mark Taylor with a  44cm bass caught in the Clarence River
Mark Taylor with a 44cm bass caught in the Clarence River

Taylor caught out on the Clarence

WHEN Richie Benaud said to legendary all-rounder Keith Miller he would have liked to have had the chance to bowl against Bradman.

Miller was quick to reply, "Everyone has a lucky break son, that was yours."

As a sports journalist, now and then a lucky break comes your way, sometimes when you least expect it.

On Monday I just happened to be having a chat with the Australian Hotel proprietor Charlie Brown when in walks former Australian cricket captain Mark Taylor.

Mark was kind enough to sit down over a beer and discuss all things cricket and more to the point his favourite pastime, fishing.

According to Mark he has been a regular visitor to the Clarence for close to 25-years.

Fishing

During his illustrious career there weren't too many times Mark Taylor was caught fishing outside off-stump.

He simply let the ball go through to the keeper or smashed it through cover-point to the boundary.

These days, when he's not commentating cricket on Channel Nine or being part of the Australian Team Performance Review committee, he's out on the water casting a line.

"I'm up this way every six months. My wife Judy, formerly Matthews, parents Arnold and Michalene live on the Old Glen Innes Road," Taylor said.

"Judy and I got married in 1989 and were going out together since 1986 so I've been visiting the Clarence area since then.

"I've got myself a little fishing boat and I've been looking forward to poking around the Clarence for a bit of fishing."

The former Australian captain has been trying his hand at one of Australia's most popular sports over the past few days in some of the best locations the Clarence has to offer.

"I actually went to Wooli a couple of days ago and struggled there," he said.

"We caught a couple of flathead and a few bream but yesterday (Sunday) was pretty good.

"We got about nine bass with the biggest one measuring 44cm which I caught on a lure."
Taylor admits he prefers lures to using live bait but when asked where he caught his prized bass his cricketing instincts took over by not showing his hand.

"I love fishing with lures and I don't carry too much bait," Taylor revealed.

"As far as the exact spot where we caught the bass, well, it's a little creek just off the Clarence River."

Cricket duties

Regarded as one of Australia's finest cricket captains, Taylor still remains involved with the game.

"I'm on the Cricket Australia Board and I was also a part of the Team Performance Committee chaired by Don Argus," Taylor said.

"I'm pretty busy with administration during winter and in summer I'm mainly commentating on Channel Nine.''

As part of the Channel Nine commentary team Taylor has close connections with his former opening partner Michael Slater who at times tries his hand at impersonating other members of the team.

"Yeah, Slats likes to do a Bill Lawry or Richie Benaud, but he is a Manly supporter so he's not that good at it and there isn't much talent involved," laughed Taylor.

That famous 334no

"It was actually a quirk of fate that I finished day two in Peshawar in 1998 on the same score as Sir Donald," Taylor admits.

"I started the final over on day two on 332 not out. Ricky Ponting was my batting partner and I hit a single.

"Ricky hit a single, I hit a single then Ricky hit a single. So I faced the last few balls and did exactly what I've always done.

"Just try and score runs. I ended up getting a single to end the day on 334."

Taylor revealed he had a sleepless night thinking about the overall situation of the match and what was best for Australia.

"I had all night to contemplate what to do. We were 4-599 at the time and we won the first Test," Taylor recalled.

"We hadn't won in Pakistan since Richie's team in 1959.

"Ideally, I would have liked to have batted on only to put them in the field for 15 minutes so they wouldn't know when I was going to declare.

"But if I had done that I think people in Australia would have assumed I only batted to beat Bradman's score.

"But that wasn't the point."

With Australia in a seemingly strong position Taylor admitted posting a score close to 600 was more than enough runs.

"I thought if we can't win the game with 599 runs in the first innings we were not going to win at all," he said.

"As it turned out I declared overnight. They made 580 (laughs) and I actually ended up making 92 in the second innings.

"So, we drew the Test and ended up winning the series. At the end of the day it was all about trying to win the game and I made a score I never thought I'd make."

Michael Clarke

According to Taylor, the current Australian captain is misperceived by the public and he has no doubts 'Pup' can lead Australia into the next era.

"As far as Michael goes, I'm a big fan," Taylor said.

"I think he goes with his gut feeling and we don't see enough of that these days.

"In my opinion, Michael Clarke has been far too harshly judged by the public for what he has done off the field.

"Even his stuff off the field hasn't been that bad."

For Taylor, when it comes to cricket captains it's each to their own, on and off the field.

"So he's gone out with a model, got engaged and he gets a few tats on his arm. It's not my cup of tea but it's his cup of tea," Taylor said.

"He's a good lad and I know him well. He loves the game, he loves talking about the game, he loves the history of the game and he has a feel for the game."

On captaincy

When you talk to cricket historians Mark Taylor's name comes up alongside Ian Chappell and Richie Benaud as one of the best captains to don the baggy green.

Taylor's instinctive style and adventurous captaincy was his trademark, along with his dogged batting at the top of the order.

"When you get out onto the field sometimes you need to do something different," Taylor explained.

"It's not all about game plans or strategy of putting something in place that's going to last forever.

"It's about getting out in the field with a rough game plan but thinking on your feet and letting people explore what they may be able to do."

For Taylor, it's a simple ideology.

"The captain's job is reasonably simple. It's about providing an environment where your team is going to feel relaxed and play their best," he said.

"If Michael Clarke adopts that attitude, which I know he will, Australian cricket will be fine."



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