“Both Bangladesh and Brendan Taylor’s names begin with the letter ‘B’. However, there’s a lot more common to them than what actually appears to the naked eye”
Just Like the initial letter of their names, Taylor’s stars are somehow aligned with that of Bangladesh. Whenever he has found himself stuck in the doldrums, matches against Bangladesh have always helped him to revive his career. It was not until his 90th ODI that he registered his maiden international century for Zimbabwe. And the team that he was up against, during that innings of an unbeaten 118, was none other than Bangladesh. He averaged 29.98 in ODIs before that match but he has scored at 40.83 in the 99 innings since then, adding 10 centuries to his run tally.
He didn’t have the best of starts to his Test career as well. He averaged only 21.10 during his first 10 Tests. But once he faced Bangladesh in his 11th Test match at Harare, his fortunes turned around. He registered his maiden Test century in the second innings of the match to follow up his knock of 71 in the first innings. His exploits with the bat helped them to register a victory by 130 runs as well.
0, 2, 4 and 19, 4, 5 were his scores in his first 3 innings in ODIs and Tests respectively. Although he showed some signs of form and class on various occasions after those innings, he never got the big innings going for himself. But Bangladesh has somehow been involved in giving him the kick he needed and it is evident from the way his career changed after his maiden international tons in both formats.
His maiden ton in Tests was also his first as a captain and the match was much more significant as it marked their return to Test cricket after a self-imposed exile. He followed up that knock with three more centuries in the next six Tests as compared to none in his first 10.
He had also turned out to be their best batsman during the 2011 World Cup campaign before that series and it seemed like the resurrection of Zimbabwe under Taylor had started. It was his performances during this mega event that convinced the selectors to pass on the mantle of captaincy to him.
Taylor also scored centuries in both innings of a Test at Harare a couple of years later in 2013 to bring an end to his six innings run drought and the team at the forefront of it was Bangladesh once again. It was during this match that he registered his highest Test score of 171* as well. This couple of innings proved that there was certainly something about Taylor and Bangladesh that couldn’t be explained by logic. Everything seemed to work out for him whenever he met the Tigers in the contest.
Zimbabwe has produced many fine cricketers over the years, but if the last decade or so is considered, Taylor would probably be one of the first names to come to our minds. He is now Zimbabwe’s most celebrated cricketer. However, he had his share of problems to deal with as well. His feud with Stephen Mangongo, Zimbabwe’s coach in 2013, had stripped him off captaincy and forced him to give up the wicket-keeper’s role as well. He even dropped Taylor from the squad for the tour of South Africa and things didn’t look good for the batsman. However, Mangongo was sacked just eight months before the 2015 World Cup and Taylor was called back into the setup as well.
He showed his class once again as he emerged as their most successful batsman during their World Cup campaign during which he scored a couple of centuries. It included an innings of 138 against India as well, which unfortunately came in a losing cause and thus Zimbabwe bowed out of the World Cup as well. But the real shockwave came after that as Taylor announced his Kolpak move with Nottinghamshire which would cut him off from international cricket completely.
Although he didn’t completely rule out the chances of playing for Zimbabwe once again, only a few expected him to return considering the uncertain future of Zimbabwe cricket. But he returned finally after an exile of two years.
His return to Test cricket wasn’t smooth enough as Taylor was averaging 16.38 in eight innings. But once he was up against Bangladesh again, he gained his form back in the same way as it had been seen during the initial part of his career. His recent back to back centuries at the den of the Tigers in Dhaka once again showed how their fates are intertwined with each other
The only difference though is that it came in a losing cause. All his previous centuries against Bangladesh had led his team to victory over the Tigers. In fact, five of Taylor’s six Test centuries so far has come against Bangladesh and that sums up his liking for the country.
Now that he has struck form back again, one can expect Taylor to take Zimbabwe to higher heights only. Statistics won’t place Taylor on the same pedestal as that of other modern greats but his contribution to Zimbabwean cricket has been of immense importance over the years. Be it leading his team on the field or taking a stand for the players off the field, the 32-year old has always been at the forefront of matters.