20 Top cricketer

20 – Tony Taylor

WHEN this northerner arrived on island to succeed the legendary Jack Reddish as sports master at Elizabeth College, not only did the boys welcome another demanding coach of high quality, but also a fantastic batsman. Tony Taylor was, unquestionably, the finest left- handed batsman the island has ever seen. For those readers who never witnessed his almost relentless will to accumulate runs, simply think Alastair Cook. In terms of style, they are similar – upright players who played straight and played within strict parameters that they set themselves.

Taylor, also a top local footballer with St Martin’s in his time, was uncompromising and he and Robin Roussel were perhaps the only Guernsey batsmen ever to tame the feared and very fast Jersey quick, Tony Howeson. In the summer when Howeson ripped through the Guernsey batting like the proverbial knife and butter (6 for 30 from 16) Taylor came across the paceman in the big warm-up match, GICC v JICC at the College Field, scoring 58 as Howeson tore in with new ball in hand. But along with Robin Roussel, Taylor kept Howeson and fellow paceman Mervyn Conway at bay to enable skipper ‘Tiny’ Rogers to declare at 181 for 5 after 58 overs. Come the inter-insular and Taylor’s full Island debut a couple of weeks later, Taylor got only as far as 11 before Howeson, with the aid of a blundering umpire, got his man on the way to destroying the home batting. ‘Howeson deserved his wickets, but not in this manner,’ wrote the Press’s John Le Poidevin.

Taylor never forgot that and, four years later on a quick FB Field track, he got his revenge on the Caesareans minus Howeson. That day Taylor struck an undefeated 52 as, along with Alan Lewis, they knocked off the 102 runs required for a 10-wicket win. During his five-year spell on island, Taylor won everything with a dominant Rovers A side that won a string of Evening League titles and four GCA KOs out of five. Their English opener could not stop scoring runs and that first year on island was particularly special, not least for a superb 92 he took off the MCC attack. That early June day the Guernsey side came within eight runs of a remarkable win as they chased a target of 263. Together with fellow College master Robin Roussel, he got the GlCC innings off to a flier in a stand worth 91. Roussel went for 51 but Taylor ploughed on and was within eight of three figures when, in an ironic twist, his cover drive was held by Island player Roger Self, who was on loan for the day to the famous London club. That same summer, Taylor got to open along with his new protege at the College, Keith Howick. In this dream opening partnership, they put on an unbroken 185-run partnership to beat visiting Builth Wells CC at the College Field. Taylor, who took four wickets that day, finished undefeated on 104. Two years later the pair were reunited for the full Guernsey side and together added 72 for the first wicket in the draw at FB Fields.