ALL that seeming bravado was for nothing; when it came to the crunch, Mark Taylor just buckled down and took what was on offer. The meeting with the cricket board turned out to be a one-way street as there was nothing which Taylor could do to get back the one-day captaincy.
As things turned out, rather than being the one to serve ultimatums, Taylor was more likely at the receiving end of one. The man who had indicated that he would not continue as Test captain unless given the one-day job too, was more or less told that if he did not want the Test job then it meant that his days as an international cricketer were over. Going by the principle that half a loaf is better than no bread, he took what he could and emerged to say that "it's business as usual".
But he was clearly unhappy and would not commit himself to anything beyond the Pakistan tour. There was bitterness writ large on his face as he said: "I guess Mark taylor will never play one-day cricket for Australia again." Steve Waugh looked like a cat who had got the cream and the bowl too; he tried to look as though the meeting had been between equals but could not hide his obvious happiness over being able to continue as one-day captain.
How much this will affect Australian cricket remains to be seen. Relations between Taylor and Waugh will clearly never be as cordial as they were but both are sufficiently professional in their approach to keep playing together and not let it affect the team too much. The good thing is that Taylor is unlikely to be around too long; maybe the Ashes and if all goes well upto that point, the tour of the Caribbean.
The whole episode has not been very good for Australian cricket and there are bound to be players who would agree with Taylor on one side while Waugh would have his supporters as well. But then Taylor brought it upon himself by the statements he made after his return from India; one should never issue an ultimatum unless one is sure one can carry it through. That, it is quite clear, Taylor could not.
Taylor can probably console himself by pointing to the situation the new england captain, Alec Stewart finds himself in; he will be the Test captain and figure in the one-day team but will have to play under Adam Hollioake in the shorter form of the game! Something which is patently absurd.
It would be interesting to see how this whole affair impacts on Taylor's captaincy; only a very rare individual could go through an experience like this and not be affected. One reason why Taylor is being retained is because the next outing is a subcontinent venture. The Australian selectors may be taking heart from the fact Pakistan is not exactly a well organised outfit at the moment. But then neither were India...