James William Arthur Taylor

James Taylor was born on January 06, 1990 at Burrough on the Hill, near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. His father was a National Hunt jockey but injury forced him to retire. James did his A levels at Shrewsbury School for whom he played cricket. He was a prodigy who scored 202*, as an 18 year old, playing for Loughborough Town. He became a highly talented right-handed batter, in the middle order, and occasional legbreak bowler. He played for Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and England. He is modest of height (5 feet and 6 inches) but, with good footwork, he was a strong cutter and puller.

He played first-class cricket from 2008, aged 18, to 2016, aged just 26. He played 139 matches scoring 9,306 runs at 46.06 with 20 centuries and 47 fifties and a top score of 291. Along with Andrew McDonald, Taylor holds Leicestershire’s record partnership for the 4th wicket of 360*, made in just 73 overs, against Middlesex at Leicester in 2010. His top score of 291 was made for Nottinghamshire against Sussex at Horsham in 2016.

2009, aged just 19, was his breakthrough year. He became the youngest Leicestershire player to score a double century when he made 207 against Surrey. That season he made 1,207 runs at 57.47 and was named the PCA’s Young Player of the Season. He was also the Cricket Writers’ Club Young Cricketer of the Year.

He was appointed captain for the England Lions in 2011 for the series against Sri Lanka A. He had an impressive series including an innings of 168*. Calls were getting louder for him to be promoted to the full England XI. Given his burgeoning career, approaches were made by both Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire, with the latter county winning his signature.

He played 7 Tests for England between August 2012, against South Africa at Leeds and January 2016, against South Africa at Centurion. He hit 2 fifties with a top score of 76. He also played 27 ODIs for England between 2011 and 2015. He made 887 runs at 42.23 with 1 century and 7 fifties and a top score of 101 against Australia in 2015.

On 12 April 2016, it was announced that Taylor, aged just 26, was forced to retire from playing due to an incurable heart condition.  Cricket fans were shocked to hear that such a promising career had been so cruelly finished.

Post playing, he went into coaching and has been an occasional summariser on “Test Match Special”. In July 2018, he was made a full-time selector for the England team. In April 2021, this role was amended to being head scout. In October 2022, he was appointed as batting coach for Leicestershire.

It will be a delight to welcome to our society someone still involved in county cricket who was a highly talented batter whose career was cut short prematurely due to ill health.

Ken Burney