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Date: Wednesday 12 December 2012
Players normally have a winding down period at the end of the season but that was definitely not the case for Leicestershire all-rounder Rob Taylor.
Rob rode from Land's End to John O'Groats along with father Olly, brother Harry and family friend Will Goodwin to raise money and awareness for Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS). The organisation provided tremendous support after they tragically lost wife and mother Fee in 2005.
It was a very special journey for Taylor and after completing the strenuous 12-day cycle, he then hopped on a plane to link up with his new Scotland colleagues in South Africa.
The 22-year-old gained his first international call-up towards the end of the 2012 campaign and given he joined the Club straight after finishing his finals at university, it has been a very busy few months for the all-rounder.
Taylor was proud to complete the bike ride and thanked everybody for their support of the event, which has raised almost £23,000 for SOBS.
“It was pretty tough,” he said. “The first couple of days were very hard as we tackled the hardest bit of the country in Devon and Cornwall. But once we got into it the ground flattened out for a bit. Then, when we got to Scotland there were some very tough hills. All the riders pulled together and there were times where we had to get each other through it.
“It was a bit harder than I thought it was going to be. We averaged around 80 miles a day and doing that for 12 days is physically and mentally tiring. Around halfway through was the toughest part. Around days six and seven it was tiring but after that we were able to start counting down the days.
“Dartmoor (in South Devon) was especially tough as we climbed a hill for around half a day and that was strenuous given the amount of time we spent in the saddle. On day two we spent ten hours on the bike and covered 95 miles. That was the longest day.
“We had great support throughout the trip. We had 12, maybe 13 people join us at various points. A few cousins joined us for whole days and people from various SOBS groups around the country joined us for half-days. It was nice having some fresh faces and they set good paces as they had fresh legs. So when we had new people join us they went at the front and we cruised in behind them, which was good.
“The Just Giving page is ongoing but at the last count we had almost gone over £23,000, which was well over our target of £15,000. We had actually raised our target before we started, which was a great boost for us. We are keeping the page going as we’ll be doing more events in the future. We’d like to thank everyone for their support throughout.”
There can be few better feelings than completing such a trip, and Taylor said the cyclists took it all in. He said: “It was amazing. We stopped three miles out from John O’Groats for our last break and it’s all downhill from there so it was a nice easy ride in! We had friends and family there. It was an amazing sense of achievement that we’d done something really big together and get there in one piece.”
Taylor was entitled to put his feet up for a while but that did not prove to be the case. He was soon linking up with new colleagues in a new environment, although there were a few familiar faces in South Africa, including Preston Mommsen, who played for County last season.
“We finished on the Friday afternoon, drove south Saturday afternoon and I was flying out to South Africa on Sunday afternoon.” he said. “So it was almost a case of swapping one bag for another!
“It was a great trip and good to get integrated into the Scotland squad. It was good to get to know the players and coaching staff and we played some good cricket against decent opposition.
“It was a similar standard to first-class cricket as we mainly played against the Highveld Lions, who got to the final of the Champions League. We played in all three formats of the game. Hopefully I have shown enough to get on the next tour out to Sharjah at the end of February.
“I learnt about the possibility of playing for Scotland through the PCA as they sent an email out after the international eligibility rules changed in August. They let us know that there had been a change in the qualification rules and I fitted into that. I went to a couple of meetings and it all went from there.
“It was nice knowing Preston out there and a couple of mates from university were there too. I went out knowing a few of the guys so although I arrived a week late because of the bike ride, I got into it very quickly. They are a good bunch of lads and we have some good players as we look to move forwards.”
Scotland recently learnt of their next round of fixtures in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship (ODIs, 50 overs) and the ICC Intercontinental Cup (4-day games). The team currently sit second in both tables but will face stern opposition against Afghanistan in Sharjah, which is one of the emirates of the United Arab Emirates.
The team will also face two T20 internationals against an impressive Afghanistan side that ran India close in the last T20 World Cup, so Taylor would understandably love to be a part of the trip.
He said: “I’m definitely looking forward to it and hope to be a part of it. It’s something I’m aiming my training towards at the moment. Scotland will be playing all three formats out in Sharjah so it would be a good experience for me and good preparation for the new season at Leicestershire too.
“If we win both one-day games out in Sharjah we take a big step towards qualifying for the 50-over World Cup and if we can go well out there, it would set Scotland up well and also set me up well for the new county season. It won’t be easy. Afghanistan are a decent side so it will be a tough challenge. But we are second in both competitions as it stands so if we beat them, we will be well on our way, I think.”
It is fair to say that Taylor has progressed hugely in the last few months. After starting the season playing against Leicestershire for Loughborough MCCU, Taylor went on to cement his place in both of the Foxes one-day sides and also took a maiden first-class five-for for good measure.
He said: “It was nice to come back from university and get straight into t20. It was almost a case of being chucked in at the deep end and I thought my bowling came together nicely last season. I am also happy with how it is moving forward.
“It was great to put a performance in the Championship game I played in and nice to pick up a five-for. The red ball game is completely different to the white ball and I was happy with how I adapted to the situations I found myself in and the roles I played.”
Taylor finished the 2012 season as leading wicket taker in List A cricket and he was also extremely successful in t20, with seven wickets and an economy rate of under seven. It was the most parsimonious bowling of any bowler who sent down more than ten overs.
There was also the fine performance against Kent in the LV=CC but Taylor is also a dangerous batsman who played two key innings in FL t20 and CB40 wins against Derbyshire and Worcestershire respectively.
Taylor heaped praise on his teammates and said the Club is in good shape as it prepares for the 2013 campaign - which he can’t wait for.
He said: “The Worcestershire game was a great feeling. It was one of those moments where you have to stay as calm as you can and back your gameplan. You have to know where your hitting areas are.
“Will Jones and I ran four twos but, at the same time, I was hitting the ball where I was aiming to hit it - just not as cleanly as I’d have liked! It was nice to do it with Jonesy as we were at school together and it was a great win from the lads. It was a real team effort from everyone and we did it in front of the cameras.
“In t20 it’s always a case of never laying down and dieing because you are never out of it. Again, I came in and helped to finish it off but it was the guys who came in before who helped to set it up. My role was to do things like that but that can’t happen unless the guys up front are doing their stuff. I was very happy to be able to put those performances in and help the team effort.
“There were times where I contributed with the bat but I have identified areas where I need to improve my game. So I am putting a lot of hard work in over the winter with the aim of being a stronger player next year.
“The new season will be good. I’m looking forward to getting really stuck into the winter training. I started back with the lads on Monday November 19 and am really enjoying it. I’ll be spending the majority of the winter here at Grace Road and then I’m looking forward to having a full season of county cricket. If I can put in all of the hard work now, hopefully I’ll reap the benefits of that next summer.”
To sponsor Rob for the great efforts of the team of cyclists, please visit: http://www.justgiving.com/Oliver-Taylor3