Tom Taylor wasn’t born when David Capel made his Test debut in 1987, but for him the Northamptonshire legend has set the template for what all-rounders can achieve at the club.
A cast of former greats of Northamptonshire cricket gather at The County Ground on Sunday to remember ‘Capes’ and raise funds for the Brain Tumour Charity, following the hugely popular all-rounder’s passing last summer. The club has chosen the Royal London Cup clash with Somerset as David Capel Memorial Day.
On the field, Taylor will be looking to follow in the great man’s footsteps having forced his way up the order with a series of attacking innings, alongside his role as a frontline seam bowler.
Northamptonshire’s Royal London Cup coach John Sadler, who has mentored Taylor since his early days at the Derbyshire Academy and was instrumental in signing him from Leicestershire last season, believes he has the skills to fill the all-rounder slot.
“That’s definitely an ambition of mine to try to push my place up the order and turn into a proper genuine all-rounder in all three formats,” said Taylor.
“That’s the role that I want to play in the team and hopefully contribute to winning trophies. That was my main ambition coming to Northampton.”
Taylor debuted for Derbyshire in 2014 as a tailender but underlined his batting potential with some valuable championship innings, including a career-best 80 from number nine in 2016.
Perhaps his most explosive innings came in Leicestershire colours when he smashed an unbeaten 98 off just 56 balls against Warwickshire at Grace Road in the Royal London Cup in 2019.
Then, on moving to Wantage Road last year, he promptly scored a 27-ball half-century to help his new county secure a Vitality Blast quarter-final spot. His battling 65 not out against Glamorgan was the one bright spot in Northamptonshire’s opening defeat in this year’s one-day campaign.
That was enough to persuade Sadler to promote him to the number six position, a position he’d like to challenge for in the championship too, although he is conscious there are other players vying for the role.
“It’s just trying, when you do get that opportunity, to take it with both hands and score the runs and prove to everyone that you can bat that high up,” said Taylor.
“There are not many people that do it at the moment in county cricket. It gives you a chance to help the team both with bat and with ball.”
Cricket is a family affair for the Taylors. Dad Phil played local club cricket for Barlaston in Staffordshire with cricket-mad sons Tom and brother James spending most evenings bowling to each other in the nets. Both boys duly graduated from club cricket through the Staffordshire age groups and into the Derbyshire Academy, with James eventually joining Surrey.
While Taylor is not one for remembering milestones, he fondly recalls his maiden championship wicket – Hashim Amla at Derby in 2014 – even if it did take two attempts. After going wicketless on debut the week before, Derbyshire coach Graeme Welch suggested making amends by removing Amla in the next game against Surrey.
“I actually got him out a few overs earlier. I just didn’t appeal. I thought he hit it and it was lbw. It was just a brain fade at the time. So, every time I hit someone on the pads now, I’m always appealing. I never lived that one down!” he said, with a wry smile.
Early in his career at Derby, Taylor was called up for an England Development Programme. Now, after a few injury-plagued years at Leicester, he hopes to knock on the door of the national side again.
“It should be every county cricketer’s ambition to try to push for higher honours and Lions and England camps and try to be the best they can be,” added Taylor.
“It’s about volume of wickets and runs at the end of the day. That’s the currency of the game, and I don’t think a good extended run in the first team at Northants, and hopefully winning games of cricket, goes unnoticed. So, that’s very much my priority and whatever comes from that will be great.”
Tickets for the David Capel Memorial Day fixture against Somerset are now available to order online and will also be available on both gates. £1 from each ticket goes directly to The Brain Tumour Charity.