In Outdoor Pursuits/ People

You can’t beat a Winchester summer, Hampshire County Cricket star Brad Taylor tells Matthew Butterworth

Winchester bowler and batsman Brad Taylor from Hampshire County Cricket Club admits he’s been unlucky. This summer is a welcome return to the pitch for Brad, whose injury-riddled career has seen him miss far more of the action of the past few years than he’d have liked.

“The pandemic combined with a series of injuries has made me miss out on far too much county cricket,” he says. “It’s made me even more determined to get playing this summer.”

Winchester-born Brad is a prime example of the Hampshire side’s successful youth system, first playing for the club in its under-15 side. After impressing in its academy, a player pathway system used to produce talented youngsters that go on to succeed professionally, in 2013 at 16, he became the youngest player in 135 years to represent Hampshire at county level.

“Opportunity was a big thing for me,” he says. “If young players are good enough, they really get a chance to succeed at Hampshire. The indoor facilities and coaches also play a massive part in players’ development.”

It wasn’t long before Brad was recognised at International level. In 2014, he received a call-up to the England U19s Test side for matches against South Africa. A year on, Brad captained England U19s to a quarter-final for their winter tour to Sri Lanka. “When I heard I was going with the U19s squad on their tour against South Africa, I was like ‘wow, that’s pretty cool!’, he says. “Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to play all over the world.”

In 2018, Brad played a vital role in Hampshire’s Royal London One-Day Cup triumph, registering the lowest economy rate for any Hampshire player during the tournament, despite missing the final due to an ankle injury. “The 2018 Royal London Cup was one of my proudest moments” he says. “Being crowned the champions in such a historic setting takes some beating.”

Brad was schooled and grew up in Holybourne, a village just outside of Winchester. Greens Bar and Kitchen on Jewry Street – a favourite in his late teens – remains a regular hang-out. “I love Winchester,” he says. “There’s a great mix of heritage and innovative little bars and quirky restaurants. If I’m in the city for the day, I like to walk along the river with a coffee. The Dispensary Kitchen on The Square is always great for breakfast. The poached eggs and avocado do me nicely.”

The pandemic put many of Hampshire’s matches on hold, making this summer’s return to the pitch all the more anticipated by players. “We’ve been apart for far too long,” says Brad. “I’ve been playing with St Cross Symondians CC 1st XI informally just to get back on the pitch again.

At county level there is much to look forward to. “The T20 Cricket Social lands at The Ageas Bowl this summer in the form of seven big matches against leading UK teams from late June,” says Brad. “The lads are in great form and we can’t wait to get playing again.”

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