Herbert Taylor

HERBERT WILFRED TAYLOR, by far the most prominent figure in South African cricket to-day, was born at Durban on the 5th of May, 1879. He first played cricket at Michael House School, where he was coached by George Cox, the Sussex bowler. After leaving school he had his first experience of public cricket, taking part in 1909 in a match against Leveson-Gower's eleven. Up to that time he had not played in the Currie Cup. He did not go to Australia with the South African team in 1910-11, but he came to England in 1912 for the Triangular Tournament, his career really beginning with that tour. His powers as a batsman were not fully matured, but he showed great promise, playing a fine, though lucky, innings of 93 against the Australians at Lord's and coming out second to Nourse for the whole trip with an aggregate of 1,340 runs and an average of 25. His future was felt to be assured, and when the England team, with J. W. H. T. Douglas as captain went to South Africa in the winter of 1913-14 he jumped to the top of the tree. Indeed, the Englishmen could not say too much in praise of his wonderful form against Barnes's bowling. South Africa lost four of the Test Matches, the other being drawn in their favour, but Taylor himself had a series of triumphs, scoring 508 runs with an average of 50. During the war, Taylor had eighteen months in the Royal Field Artillery and two years in the Flying Corps, and was awarded the M.C.C. When International cricket was resumed he played better than ever, hitting up three hundreds, with an average of 64, in the Test Matches, against the England team in South Africa in 1922-23. It is no injustice to him to say that in this country last summer he fell far below the expectations of his friends. He made plenty of runs and played many a fine innings, but the responsibility of captaining a losing side proved rather too much for him, and in the Test Matches he did not do himself justice. He had not in any way lost his form, but circumstances were against him. Taylor's style is so good and his back play so exceptionally strong that one never while watching him has the least doubt as to his class as a batsman. Few players at the present day have so many scoring strokes in front of the wicket.

© John Wisden & Co