Clive Taylor was cricket correspondent of The Sun, and a journalists’ journalist, highly regarded by his peers. He wrote very well, and could have turned his hand to most kinds of journalism, but his passion was for cricket, and he focused all his skills on the game. He dictated at high speed clear, insightful copy which made the reader feel as though he was watching the game. Because he worked for a paper with a very high circulation he had to hit early deadlines. Often he would write 1000 words on a match in 25 minutes, not only accurately but with style and humour.
When he died in 1977 The Cricketer described him as "a master craftsman" and one of the "most rational and constructive critics" of the game. The Sun promoted their writer as the man the players themselves read, and his journalistic peers admitted it was true.
Yet, as John Arlott noted, Taylor never became emotional about the game. "Rather he saw it in the round and noted its weaknesses in the hope that he might help to repair them." Nor did he twist a fact for the sake of a story.
John Woodcock (The Times) wrote after his death: "He could have written with equal distinction for any newspaper in the world, and on a whole range of subjects. That he chose cricket was cricket’s good fortune."
A useful club cricketer himself, Taylor naturally offered to cover as many matches as possible when he began work as a young man for a local paper – the Tooting and Balham News and Mercury in south London, where he covered most sports. From there he moved to the Morning Advertiser as a sports columnist, and then to Hayters Sports Agency before being hired by The Sun in 1964.
He toured with every major MCC team in the 19 years before he died, aged 50, having been lucky enough to spend most of his working life writing about his passion.
Extracted from "A Dazzling Debut", 20 December 1976, The Sun:
"John Lever, his fair hair flapping round his shoulders like a Viking, yesterday brought down India, the lords of the East, in the First Test.
For the first time in 12 years they suffered the humiliation of being made to follow on before their own countrymen, who have grown sleek and content watching their success. That was the doing of Lever, who in his Test debut took 7 for 46, the best performance by anyone in his first bowl for England.
For all but three overs of the innings, as India were put out for 122, Lever occupied one end, always superb, swinging the ball into the pads with his left-arm deliveries and sometimes angling it across twoards slips. The confusion he created on a pitch doped into unconsciousness was complete....
"With four wickets already landed, the Essex man went 80 minutes yesterday morning before he took another. Then Knott caught Patel off bat and pad down the legside and half India were out for 96. Three runs later Sunil Gavaskar, the most talented of all their basmen, went for the hook despite three men posted for the shot and stood transfixed watching his own downfall. For 25 yards round the boundary edge Willis’s giant strides ate up the ground as the ball hung in the air, then as he made the catch he stumbled, fell and hung on.
The other ten of the England team raced 80 yards over the outfield to congratulate him.
Immediately afterwards Willis, now a sort of gully in the tight ring of attacking fielders, flung himself to his right and slid his fingers under a sliced drive the Sharma had hit brutally hard. That wicket belonged to Underwood – the first time any bowler other than Lever had intervened.
When they started again Lever lifted out Kirmans’s off-stump with an in-swinger so sharp that the batsman finished up facing mid-on. Then Old finished of Bedi, Chanra and the Indian innings in two balls.
Ten minutes later Lever, the edge gone by now, was starting his new opening spell of five overs. Yet the memory of his earlier success will keep him warm for the rest of his life as a professional cricketer."