DateLine: 15th April 2006
The death of former Transvaal captain and Springbok opening batsman, Alistair Innes "Scotch" Taylor, has gone unnoticed for well over two years.
Taylor died of a stroke on February 7th, 2004 in the of the Randjes Estate frail care centre in Highlands North, Johannesburg. Born on 25th July, 1925, he was 78 at the time of his death.
Taylor was educated at King Edward V11 School where he was an all-round sportsman, playing soccer at an early age and being a menber of the school shooting team and representing the first X1 as an opening batsman and leg-break bowler.
He gained a BSc (mining engineering) degree at Witwatersrand University in 1949.
A brilliant hockey player, he gained hockey colours for Transvaal in 1949 as a centre-half, and at the end of that year made his debut in first-class cricket for Transvaal in a match against Natal, scoring 0 and 6.
As the Australians were touring South Africa thats season, there was no Currie Cup matches played that summer, but in the following season he scored his maiden first-class century against Griqualand West, adding 204 with his captain Eric Rowan, who went on to make the highest Currie Cup score of 277 not out, breaking the Currie Cup record of 271 not out set up by Jack Cheetham only five days earlier.
In 1953-54 he hit a solid 64 not out against the touring New Zealand team.
During the 1950s, after the retirement of Rowan, Taylor, Russell Endean and John Waite took it in turns to captain Transvaal. Taylor's last match was against the touring International Cavaliers in September, 1960 when he scored 7 and 41.
He was unfortunate to miss the 1955 tour of England after an excellent summer when he topped the A section Currie Cup averages, but when Springbok captain Jackie McGlew was unable to play in the first Test against Peter May's 1956-57 England team with an injured shoulder, Taylor was called up to partner Trevor Goddard at the first Test ever at the new Wanderers ground. Clive van Ryneveld took over the captaincy from McGlew.
It was a slow-scoring series and Taylor batted solidly for 12 in 106 minutes, putting on 54 for the first wicket with Goddard. He scored 6 in the second innings as South Africa collapsed for 72 all out.
McGlew returned for the second Test at Newlands, but was unable to play again in the series and Tony Pithey was selected as opener for the last three Tests.
Taylor later played an active role at the Old Edwardians club, setting up a squash section and playing bowls from the 1970s, winning the singles championship. He served as president of the bowls section in 1990 and 1991. He was later elected as president of the South African Hockey Union and acted as an administator for Transvaal hockey for many years.
During World War 2 he served as a pupil pilot of single-engine aircraft just before the war ended and later obtained a commercial pilot's licence, flying for three years in the State President's Air Race.
Taylor leaves his wife, Sheila and son Neville and two grandchildren.
In all first-class cricket Taylor scored 2,717 runs (average 31.59) with six centuries and 11 50s in 52 matches. His highest score was 180 against Western Province at Ellis Park in 1954-55. He also captured 32 wickets (30.81) with a best of 4-52.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 Peter Martin)