When Mark Taylor’s fighting hundred helped Australia conquer Antigua
Mark Taylor (right), pictured here hooking Courtney Walsh at Antigua in 1995, was the architect of Australia’s consolation victory over the West Indies four years ago at the same venue © Getty Images
On April 29, 1991, Mark Taylor battled against the West Indian pacemen to score a fantastic 144. The innings helped Australia set a huge target for the West Indies and become the first visiting team to win a Test at Antigua. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes more about that great knock.
At their pomp, the West Indies were an unstoppable juggernaut that could trample any side in their path. To beat them in a Test match was more than a remarkable feat, as teams required a special effort to trump the Caribbean Kings. On this day in 1991, Mark Taylor produced a gem to help Australia become the first side to clinch a Test victory at the Antigua Recreation Ground.
Coming into the fifth and final Test, West Indies led 2-0 and had already bagged the Frank Worrell Trophy. Australia had nothing to play for but pride. Allan Border won the toss and elected to bat first. Up against them was a feared pace battery comprising Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Malcolm Marshall and Patrick Patterson.
The classy Mark Waugh smashed 139 to help Australia score 403 in the first innings. Waugh’s innings was also a fantastic effort, as he faced only 188 deliveries and hit 11 fours and three sixes. Dean Jones, Allan Border and Taylor contributed with fifties to take Australia beyond the 400 mark.
In reply, the West Indies faltered against Craig McDermott and Merv Hughes. The pacemen combined to bundle out West Indies for 214 — Desmond Haynes was the lone fighter with 84 to his name. Australia managed to take a huge lead of 189.
Although Australia had the lead, they were up for a stern test against pace. At the end of Day Two (April 28), they were six for one in their second essay having lost Geoff Marsh early.
The following day, Taylor and nightwatchman Ian Healy commenced Australia’s fight. Healy was going strong and scoring at a good rate. With the score on 47, Patterson had Healy caught for a well-made 32. Unfortunately, Patterson injured his leg and could only bowl that solitary over in the second innings.
Taylor waged his battle as David Boon joined him. They added 93 runs to extend Australia’s challenge before Boon was bowled by Walsh for 35. Taylor held firm throughout and had his fair share of luck. As Wisden reports, he was dropped on 47 and 59, but continued to fight. The middle-order buckled under the pressure exerted by the West Indian pacemen. They may have been a bowler short, but had enough firepower to dent the opposition.
Walsh was in great form as he snared the middle-order — including the first innings centurion Waugh for a first-ball duck. From 142 for two, Australia had slipped to 184 for six. In the midst of that great spell, Taylor was going strong and got past his seventh Test hundred and was looking good for 150. His 281-ball vigil finally came to an end with the score on 258. By then, his innings of 144 had put his side firmly in command and taken their lead well past 400. It did not take long for Australia to be bowled out after that dismissal. They were all-out for 265, giving the West Indies a target of 455.
West Indies had a little over two days with them, but 455 was always going to be a monumental challenge. There were a few fighting cameos from the West Indian batsmen, as Gus Logie and Marshall battled hard to lead the way. However, the Australian bowlers put in a team effort to seal a comfortable 157-run victory.
The series may have been lost, but this victory will always be special for Australia. Taylor was the architect with his fighting innings in the second innings and was deservingly named the Man of the Match.
Australia 403 (Mark Waugh 139*; Curtly Ambrose 3 for 92) and 265 (Mark Taylor 144; Courtney Walsh 4 for 56) beat West Indies 214 (Desmond Haynes 84; Craig McDermott 4 for 42) and 297 (Gus Logie 61; Merv Hughes 2 for 49) by 157 runs.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/nishad_44)