.html> sam's terrain: cricket news, views and controversies

A fitting finale

After Australia's emphatic victory in the dead third Test, the question being asked by most is not why India lost; rather, it is whether we have seen Mark Taylor's swansong. The Australian skipper played like a man possessed and if, as many feel, this was his last Test innings, then it is definitely the best note on which he could leave. And every captain would like to go out on a winning note.

One thing which has definitely upset Taylor is the picking of separate captains for the Test and one-day teams; it has upset others in the team too and the announcements about the composition of the squad this time could not have been more badly timed, no matter what explanations the Australian board offers. This could also be a reason for Taylor to consider retiring now, for every captain who is doing duty during the latter half of this year would definitely like to lead his team for the World Cup in England next year.

Taylor has had more success than most other captains of this era and he knows that the one thing which has eluded him -- victory over India in India -- is now out of his reach. By the time the next time Indian tour comes around (and when that would be, is anybody's guess) he is going to be absent. It all depends on whether he wants to try and lead the baggy green brigade on a mission to try and beard Pakistan in its own den.

If he declares his availability for the tour, then he will definitely be picked as captain. Steve Waugh is still a little irregular in his appearances with injuries playing up far too often. It does not seem likely that Shane Warne will be handed the torch so soon for that may well upset a team which has already had its equilibrium tampered with a great deal.

Taylor cannot do what Michael Atherton has done -- give up the captaincy and say that he will fight for his place in the team as a batsman. He will never be picked as a batsman alone for he has done very little in the last two years to be picked on that score. His captaincy -- aggressive and intuitive -- has been the factor which has kept him in the team. He has played the occasional fighting knock as well.

There is time aplenty for Taylor to reflect and decide -- unless, as some argue, he has already made the decision. Australia has a few months before they go to Pakistan and that period will be filled with the normal speculation -- unless Taylor makes an announcement as soon as he returns from India which should be pretty soon. I doubt he will keep people in the dark for long about his intentions.

As mentioned, India's loss is really not the topic of the moment, but one does have a few questions to ask about it: