ZIMBABWE felt it had made huge strides in the development of its cricket team into a decent side, but the signing of Test captain and number one batsman Brendan Taylor for Nottinghamshire in England has thrust the team steps back.
In announcing the capture of Taylor the County side promised that finer details of his contract would be discussed after Zimbabwe’s final match of the ICC World Cup against India at Eden Park tomorrow starting 5:30am local time.
But Taylor could be playing his final game for Zimbabwe when he takes to the field in their last Group B game of the World Cup.
Taylor has signed a three-year Kolpak deal with Nottinghamshire, subject to ECB approval, which makes him ineligible to play for Zimbabwe while that contract is in effect.
He has left the door open to playing for Zimbabwe after the deal with Nottinghamshire expires, but could also go on to qualify for England.
Calling the decision the biggest one he has had to make, Taylor said he was sad to leave Zimbabwe cricket but had made the choice with his family in mind.
“It’s been one of the biggest decisions I’ve had to make; in fact the biggest decision,” Taylor told ESPNcricinfo ahead of the match against India in Auckland.
“I’ve always been very passionate about playing for Zimbabwe, I still am. I sat down with my wife and we decided to make this decision together. It hasn’t been easy.”
He also expressed hope that the leadership of Dav Whatmore, who was appointed Zimbabwe coach a few months ahead of the World Cup, would lift the team’s performances in the future. Whatmore said Nottinghamshire were “very, very lucky” to have Taylor in their ranks and was confident Zimbabwe could stay strong after Taylor’s exit.
Zimbabwe is lining up a busy international season that will see home tours against India, New Zealand, possibly Ireland and probably Pakistan, but that will be new life without Taylor.
After his performance against Ireland when he scored 121 runs, many felt Taylor should be restored as ODI captain, but now Zimbabwe will have to seek another Test captain.
Taylor scored 6 376 first-class runs at 43.08 on top of four Test centuries in 23 matches for Zimbabwe.
He captained Zimbabwe to Test wins against Bangladesh and Pakistan at home, as well as ODI wins against the same opponents and New Zealand.
He made his Test and ODI debut against Sri Lanka in 2004.
Taylor played 23 Tests for Zimbabwe and tomorrow’s match is ODI number 166; it looks like he will not add to that — at least not in the next three years.