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HomeSportsCricketHugh Tayfield: The Elusive Genius

Hugh Tayfield: The Elusive Genius


It’s tough to argue with the proposition that Hugh ‘Toey’ Tayfield is the best spin bowler that South African cricket has produced. A case will be made to assist the claims of the nice triumvirate of the ‘googly’ summers of 1905/06 and 1907, however none of Bert Vogler, Reggie Schwarz or Aubrey Faulkner performed as many Assessments as Tayfield, and in any occasion after they had been an unknown amount and at their most harmful South Africa weren’t enjoying towards a aspect that was really consultant of the power of English cricket.

There are some who would possibly advocate a up to date of Tayfield, a minimum of in the beginning of his profession, Athol Rowan. His file towards Len Hutton demonstrates what a tremendous off spinner Rowan should have been, and who is aware of what he may need achieved had it not been for that wartime damage that affected him so badly there have been occasions he needed to take the sector carrying a leg iron, but when statistics are the clincher Rowan is a way behind.

Tayfield got here from a cricketing household. His father was a great participant and his maternal uncle, Sidney Martin, performed as an all-rounder for Worcestershire within the Nineteen Thirties and was a ok participant to do the double twice. Again in South Africa after the struggle there have been a handful of Natal matches the place uncle and nephew performed collectively, Tayfield making his debut as a 17 12 months previous in 1946. Two youthful brothers, Arthur and Cyril, additionally performed efficiently within the Currie Cup and each should at occasions have come near being chosen for the South African Check aspect. 

A hanging presence in any group Tayfield, with darkish hair and matinee idol seems to be, was a sight that batsmen grew to dread. He wasn’t a terrific spinner of the ball, and his quick shuffle to the wicket didn’t recommend menace, however he was metronomically correct and, even on the uncommon events batsmen had any success in getting after him, not possible to disturb. He was a grasp of the delicate variation of tempo and flight and on a useful floor able to working by the most effective batting aspect, one thing he demonstrated in his first Check collection, at a time when he was nonetheless to have fun his twenty first birthday. 

The well-known nickname of ‘Toey’ got here from Tayfield’s behavior, earlier than each supply, of stubbing his toe into the bottom. It was not a acutely aware motion on Tayfield’s half, merely half and parcel of his motion and it was one thing that was not picked up on till the 1949/50 Australians did so. It was in the course of the well-known collection between the identical opponents in Australia three years later that Tayfield’s different idiosyncracy began, this time one which was deliberate, a minimum of the primary time it was carried out. Pissed off at his lack of ability to get by the Australian batsmen’s defences Tayfield requested his teammates for options as to what he might do. At one level he kissed his cap badge earlier than handing the headgear to the umpire in the beginning of his over. The wicket of Arthur Morris adopted, and from then on Tayfield did the identical earlier than each over he bowled.

A spot within the beginning line up for the primary Check of that 1949/50 go to of Australia should have been a great distance from Tayfield’s thoughts when the tour started. He had performed little or no First Class cricket within the earlier season and, a few weeks earlier than the primary Check, Rowan had match figures of 15-68 in Transvaal’s match towards the vacationers. Sadly for Rowan nonetheless his knee then flared up so badly it was nearly 18 months earlier than he performed once more. 

Australia received the primary, second and fifth Assessments by a distance and not one of the South African bowlers confirmed themselves to benefit, though Tayfield was seldom collared and did in addition to anybody. Within the second Check he had additionally proven some potential with the bat, his 75 serving to add 102 with left arm spinner Norman ‘Tufty’ Mann for the eighth wicket within the South Africans second innings. The partnership solely delayed the inevitable nonetheless, the Australians nonetheless successful by eight wickets. Tayfield by no means did stay as much as the promise nonetheless. The innings was to stay his highest rating in Assessments, and one in every of simply two half centuries. He was a great participant off the entrance foot, however his approach when enjoying again was suspect.

The South Africans misplaced the third Check of the collection as nicely, however most likely shouldn’t have, and that’s the match the place Tayfield made his mark. The house aspect received the toss and batted and while from the heights of 242-2 a complete of 311 within the first innings was disappointing, South Africa had been nicely on prime on the finish of the second day after dismissing Australia for simply 75. Tayfield had been the primary destroyer taking 7-23. Sadly for South Africa skipper Alan Melville then had the remainder day wherein to ponder whether or not to implement the comply with on. Ultimately he selected to bat and, his aspect dismissed for simply 99, a lot of the impetus was misplaced. The Australian goal was nonetheless 337, the very best rating of the match, however after some early breakthroughs by Mann and Tayfield Neil Harvey performed one of many nice Check innings, and Australia received by 5 wickets. The South Africans drew the fourth Check and did so on benefit, so it was a 4-0 defeat and the emergence of Tayfield one of many few positives they might take from the collection.

By 1951 Rowan was thought of match to take a spot within the celebration to tour England so, regardless of the promising begin to his Check profession Tayfield missed out on the journey, a minimum of as a part of the unique squad. There have been considerations from the outset about whether or not Rowan’s knee might stand as much as the rigours of a full tour so, in mid Could, Tayfield was flown out to England. Regardless of his issues Rowan was in a position to play in all 5 Assessments, and Tayfield was the one member of the group who missed out on a Check. For as soon as he didn’t shine, 16 First Class matches bringing him simply 29 wickets at 36.55.

The South Africans misplaced 3-1 to England in 1951. The identical England had misplaced 4-1 in Australia a number of months earlier than. The South Africans had been because of tour Australia in 1952/53, however many thought it too nice a mismatch, the aspect that had misplaced to England having misplaced two of their finest batsman, Dudley Nourse and Eric Rowan, their main spin bowler in Athol Rowan. As well as the promising profession of the genuinely quick Cuan McCarthy had ended on account of considerations about his motion. There have been many who thought that the tour must be cancelled, and it was solely when the South African Board supplied a considerable monetary assure that the journey was confirmed.

Previous to the primary Check the South Africans had carried out fairly nicely, though that they had misplaced to New South Wales. The primary Check was additionally misplaced, however Australia’s margin of victory was solely 94 runs and, had Neil Harvey not been dropped off Tayfield’s bowling when 19 (he went on to make 109 in a century Wisden described as dazzling) the South Africans may need turned the tables. Tayfield didn’t take a wicket within the first innings, however within the second innings he took 4-116 in 33.3 eight ball overs.

The second Check noticed the South Africans sq. the collection. The fielding of the younger aspect was fairly excellent and Tayfield was no exception, diving full size to take a catch that had been parried by his skipper Jack Cheetham. Tayfield additionally contributed a helpful 23 as, after selecting to bat first, South Africa struggled to 227. Tayfield’s matchwinning contribution was with the ball nonetheless. He tied the Australians down splendidly nicely and at one level bowled unchanged for 4 hours. He took 6-84 and 7-81 which, along with a tremendous unbeaten 162 from Russell Endean within the second innings, noticed South Africa run out as winners by 82 runs. 

The Australians reasserted their superiority within the third Check, and South Africa needed to defend skilfully to attract the fourth Check earlier than David slayed Goliath once more within the fifth match and the South Africans confounded their detractors with a six wicket victory. This one was an actual group effort, no batsman making a century as South Africa scored 732 runs throughout each innings, and the bowlers all contributed with extra lengthy spells from Tayfield as he took 3-129 and 3-73 from a complete of 67.4 overs. Over the collection as a complete he bowled greater than twice as many overs as any of his teammates and with 30 (at 28.10), took greater than twice as many wickets.

Within the method of the occasions the South Africans, with an sudden revenue for his or her board, visited New Zealand for 2 Assessments on their manner residence. They received one and drew one and, the next 12 months, entertained the New Zealanders for a return collection. It was the primary time that the New Zealanders performed a full 5 match collection. That one ended with a 4-0 victory for South Africa, and the New Zealanders had no actual reply to Tayfield though, in a well-known innings within the second Check at Ellis Park Bert Sutcliffe, with somewhat assist from Bob Blair, took 25 from a Tayfield over. It will be the twenty first century earlier than that was exceeded in a Check match over.

In 1955 the South Africans returned to England with ten of the aspect who had carried out so nicely in Australia. To start with the journey was not a nice one for them as they performed poorly in Could and misplaced the primary Check by an innings Frank Tyson, for the one time in England, displaying the shape that had so dominated Australia a number of months earlier than. One other England victory adopted within the second Check and a collection defeat loomed. As that they had confirmed in Australia nonetheless South Africa didn’t quit simply and, with the solar shining, they confirmed their sturdiness in coming again to win the subsequent two Assessments. Within the first of them Tayfield’s was a bit half, however within the second his 4-70 and 5-94 had been the primary contribution to the trigger. 

The pitch for the ultimate Check on the Oval was one which helped the spinners, with out ever being unfair. There have been three nice spinners on present, Tayfield, Jim Laker and Tony Lock and so they took 8, 7 and eight wickets respectively. England got here out on prime by 92 runs. Had Tayfield had a ‘spin twin’ it may need been totally different. Within the collection he took 26 wickets at 21.84 and was chosen as one in every of Wisden’s ‘5 Cricketers of the Yr’.   

Tayfield was again in England the next summer time, a marquee signing by the East Lancashire membership of the Lancashire League. Nice issues had been anticipated however the signing was a disappointment. Blaming the climate, his captain and damage Tayfield scored solely 302 runs and took 47 wickets. On the social aspect he fashioned a friendship with the English actress Jill Adams that was sufficiently shut to influence Adams to mortgage him £230 (value round £6,000 right now). On the finish of the summer time Tayfield went residence to South Africa the place England, recent from a 3-1 victory in that summer time’s Ashes marketing campaign, had been visiting.

England carried on the place they left off, comfortably successful the primary two Assessments, however the South Africans then turned the collection on its head. They managed a draw within the third Check, Tayfield taking 8-69 in England’s second innings. He went one higher within the fourth Check when he took 9-113 as England failed by 17 runs to chase down a victory goal of 232, the ninth wicket being that of tempo bowler Peter Loader, caught within the deep by Tayfield’s brother Arthur, fielding in its place. The fifth Check had an analogous conclusion with, on this event, England chasing the seemingly much less testing goal of 189. This time nonetheless they fell 59 runs quick, Tayfield once more being the architect of their defeat, taking 6-78. Over the 5 Assessments Tayfield had taken 37 wickets at a price of simply 17.18 every, nonetheless the biggest collection haul for a South African.

The 1956/57 collection was nonetheless the height. The next winter the South African public should have  been anticipating a repeat as a younger Australia aspect underneath Ian Craig visited them, however the collection was a disappointment. The Australians recorded three complete defeats and Tayfield took simply 17 wickets at 37.58. The most important shock of the collection was that Ken ‘Slasher’ Mackay, who in 1956 in England had had no reply to the wiles of Laker, had the most effective collection of his profession and appeared untroubled by Tayfield. In 1960 in England, Tayfield’s final collection, he was much more disappointing with simply 12 wickets at 37.83. Over the tour as a complete he did nicely, however struggled within the massive matches. 

After his disappointing journey to England in 1960 the subsequent alternative for Tayfield to play Assessments was a go to by the New Zealanders for a 5 Check collection in 1961/62. By then although Tayfield’s type was on the wane. He was nonetheless solely 32, so ought to nonetheless have been on the top of his powers, however he was palpably not the bowler he as soon as had been and appeared unable to arrest the slide and after extra disappointing type within the 1962/63 season he slipped out of the sport.

What was the issue? It’s tough to discern that as there was no vital damage or lack of health however, in a e book on the 1961/62 collection the Australian author ‘Dick’ Whitington expressed the view {that a} contributory issue was a refusal by Tayfield to take heed to recommendation. His tactic of inserting two mid ons while leaving a spot within the off aspect was now not working, however he steadfastly refused to desert it.

One other instance of Tayfield failing to adapt was when, throughout a visit to South Africa with a Commonwealth XI in October 1959, Tom Graveney began enjoying Tayfield by planting his entrance foot ahead after which sweeping. South African umpires weren’t within the behavior of giving lbws and Graveney discovered he had what amounted to a free go. It didn’t take lengthy for different batsmen to grasp that they might now nullify a lot of Tayfield’s menace.

In 1960 Tayfield would have good cause to really feel considerably distracted. The phrases of the settlement he struck with Jill Adams are usually not clear, however in some unspecified time in the future she had obtained a Excessive Court docket judgment towards him for the cash. With Tayfield again in England she took steps to implement it, and the Day by day Mirror picked up on the story and returned to it a number of occasions. At one listening to, not attended by Tayfield, Ms Adams’s Counsel got here out with the type of soundbite attorneys enjoyment of when he mentioned of Tayfield in open courtroom he’s a sluggish bowler and an excellent slower payer. The debt was, apparently, paid earlier than the South Africans returned.

The Adams story means that Tayfield was not nicely favored, and that’s one thing that definitely prolonged to his opponents. As a bowler he was revered, as a person much less so. In 1960 his fellow grasp of the craft of off spin, Laker, wrote; Tayfield is a tremendous off spinner, probably the most correct I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t spin the ball as a lot as, for instance, I do, however he has an uncanny knack of tying batsmen down, earlier than including as an individual I’ve much less to say for him; he’s not the type of individual I need to have any contact with.

It’s tough to search out an excessive amount of about why this was and, apparently, one in every of Laker’s biographers makes the remark that when teammate Doug Insole noticed the preliminary proofs he suggested Laker to tone down that reference to Tayfield. This was although Insole disliked Tayfield as a lot as anybody, but as an illustration of what sporting autobiographies had been then like Insole’s personal autobiography, revealed in the identical 12 months as Laker’s e book, is totally anodyne within the few references it makes to Tayfield.

There are two often cited examples that illustrate why Tayfield was disliked. On the fourth morning of the primary Check of the 1956/57 collection, with South Africa nonetheless nicely within the sport, Denis Compton drove the ball again at Tayfield who, regardless of each Englishman (and on their accounts among the South Africans) being satisfied the ball bounced two ft in entrance of him, claimed the catch. Ever the gentleman Compo accepted Tayfield’s assurance that the catch was good so there was no ‘incident’, however the matter was clearly not forgotten and one thing comparable occurred later within the collection.

Within the drawn third Check, having retired damage earlier within the innings, Trevor Bailey returned to the crease late on the fourth afternoon and was dealing with Tayfield within the final over of the day. What just isn’t in dispute is that Bailey performed defensively at what turned the final ball of the day and, because the ball lobbed as much as quick leg, was given out caught after a thunderous attraction from the bowler. All commentators additionally agree that he stayed put within the center for a while after being given out. Based on Bailey the choice was a shocker, and that his bat had been tucked in nicely behind his bat. Insole, non-striker on the time, was sure that each one the ball struck was Bailey’s knee roll. On the opposite aspect of the coin there have been South Africans apart from Tayfield who appealed, and while the press field was a great distance from the center of their submit tour books neither EW ‘Jim’ Swanton nor Alan Ross indicated any considerations in regards to the dismissal. 

Life after cricket didn’t deal with Tayfield notably nicely. He was married 5 occasions and every of the marriages resulted in divorce. His first spouse was from Perth, Western Australia and Tayfield met her on the 1952/53 tour. Subsequently it was introduced on the finish of the 1960 tour of England that he can be marrying a lady from London who can be following him again to South Africa. He had a son from his first marriage, however there have been no additional youngsters from the opposite 4.

What did Tayfield do with himself after cricket? It’s not fully clear. In 1958/59 he went to Australia to write down about that winter’s Ashes collection for an English newspaper, the Day by day Herald. He went again in 1963/64 to comply with the South African tour there, however appears to not have carried out a terrific deal extra journalism.

In 1960/61 he instructed the Transvaal selectors that he wasn’t obtainable because of the calls for of his enterprise, however he nonetheless performed 4 occasions in 1962/63, so maybe the enterprise, no matter it was, rapidly failed. In 1969 it was reported that Tayfield appeared in courtroom on a theft cost, though the result of the listening to being the dismissal of the cost that can not be the rationale why, after Tayfield’s demise in 1994, David Frith reported a hearsay that Tayfield had spent a short while in jail.

It was in 1989 that Frith met Tayfield, at an occasion organised to have fun the one hundredth anniversary of South Africa’s first Check match. He didn’t look nicely even then, however left Frith with a quip that maybe defines him. Requested about his two journeys to England he instructed Frith of a dialog with the legendary Sydney Barnes, whose recommendation to Tayfield was don’t take any discover of something anyone ever tells you. That he adopted Barnes’ steerage would possibly nicely clarify why so lots of his friends had been so ambivalent in direction of him.

In any occasion the consensus of these few who’ve written briefly of Tayfield’s later life is that he didn’t do nicely. Damaged marriages and unemployment are usually not a great begin and the one theme with any diploma of consistency is that he did do some journalistic work. He was in Australia in 1982/83 reporting on the World Cup, however sadly I’ve discovered little to shed any mild on the suggestion that he was additionally engaged in in search of to recruit Australian gamers for a insurgent tour.

What is for certain is that Tayfield died in 1994 on the age of 65, spending his final weeks in a hospice in Hillcrest in Natal, dying of oesophageal most cancers. He had been in poor health for a while and was on his personal and penniless. Sadly the one member of the family I managed to trace down was unwilling to debate Tayfield’s life with me however he was definitely an fascinating man and, hopefully, in the future a talented biographer will be capable to resolve his story.



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