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Essex Shield

Tales from the Boundary



Brian ‘Tonker’ Taylor is not to be confused with the journalist, jockey, pitcher (baseball), Australian footballer, basketball player or film maker, all of whom are listed by Wikipedia.

‘Tonker’ played for Essex for 25 years.  He was Essex through and through, born in West Ham, probably marked internally, like a stick of Southend rock.

He made his debut in 1949, 43 days short of his 17th birthday, against Cambridge University.  Unfortunately John Dewes and Hubert Doggart chose this day to score 429 for the second wicket without being parted BUT there were only four byes.

Brian played one first class match in each of 1950, 1951 and 1953, a lot for Essex seconds in the Minor Counties championship and presumably did his National Service stint.

Then, after 17 matches in 1954 and 19 in 1955 he was pretty well ever present until 1972, often playing 30 odd matches a year.

1956 saw the first of 9 centuries, 60 catches and 15 stumpings, selection as "Young Cricketer of the Year" and for the England tour of South Africa in 1956-57, as understudy to Godfrey Evans.

He was deceptively short in height but a ramrod back made him appear taller.  His bearing and, according to his players, his playing attitude was that of a regimental sergeant major.

‘Tonker’ led Essex out of relative obscurity and laid the foundations of future success, grooming "his boys", especially Lever, Turner, East and Acfield, to become winning cricketers.

I recall especially one final session of a cricket season when a player (who will remain nameless) was ticked off for a bit of (understandable) slacking.  ‘Tonker’ demanded full commitment whether it was first day or last.

Andrew Appleby