John Taylor, as his son Patrick puts it, "was an ordinary hardworking man, who is having his fair share of fame" thanks to his love for cricket. John, who was 83, passed away on 12 August, moments after England sealed victory against India in the second Test at Lord's. John's story would not have survived the test of time, his life's tale wouldn't have gone beyond the knowledge of his family members and few friends. Patrick, though, saw his father's life as an inspiration and he wanted the world to know about it.
During day three of the third Test between England and India at Trent Bridge, Jonathan Agnew, the BBC Radio 5 Test Match Special commentator, read out an emotional, gut-wrenching letter written by Patrick that detailed his departed father's battle with illness and also celebrated his love for cricket.
"On an ever-increasingly sticky wicket, he faced up and defended against a beamer in the form of leukemia, the yorker of muscular dystrophy, the googly of Parkinson’s, the reverse swing of diabetes, and latterly, was struck down by the vicious bouncer of dementia," Patrick said in the letter.
Patrick further wrote, "But like fellow Yorkshireman Brian Close, he never winced, complained or succumbed to the temptation of amateur dramatics.
"He just accepted the cards he was dealt and squeezed every last drop out of life that he could on a single-by-single basis with his amazing care team acting as runners. On 83, dad finally faced the inevitable, unplayable delivery and left the field of play."
John was rushed to hospital on Thursday, 9 August, with a bad chest infection, and on Friday, the family was handed the devastating news that he would be gone in 24 to 48 hours. On Saturday, when Patrick was at the hospital, his wife had a great idea of listening to Test Match Special on mobile. After five minutes, John opened his eyes and was able to convey that he was comfortable and was at peace. Later, the family listened to "Chris Woakes crashing it about at Lord’s and making his maiden Test century."
Even the next day, John listened to cricket with a help of a digital radio and he passed away peacefully right after England had clinched the Test.
Patrick's touching eulogy to his father has now been nominated as the Laureus’ Sporting Moment of the Month for October.
"To be honest, I had no idea about Laureus World Sports Awards. We have something similar here in England called BBC Sports Personality of the Year, but when I researched about it, I figured it's really big," Patrick said in an exclusive chat with Firstpost.
"I want to win it but I know the competition is very strong, but I'm also happy that my father's life is being celebrated," Patrick said.
Cricket was a passion for John. But according to Patrick, John was also a tennis lover. "He was also a big fan of tennis. When it comes to cricket, I remember my father as a garden cricketer. He used to play with us at the backyard and those are my early memories of playing cricket with my father," Patrick recounted to Firstpost.
John, as stated in the letter, was a supporter of Yorkshire and his favourite cricketer was Fred Trueman.
Since John loved cricket, it's only natural that he fell in love with BBC's Test Match Special. The tradition of listening to cricket commentary has been in the family for generations. Patrick's grandfather was blind so he was always glued to Test Match Special to keep track of cricket matches. The Ashes, cricket's oldest rivalry involving Australia and England, was a favourite among the family and a young kid, Patrick relied on Test Match Special to get updates when the tournament took place in Australia.
"I remember as a boy, listening to the Ashes in Australia under my bed covers with a torch on at silly o'clock until Dad finally lost patience and reminded me that it was the school in the morning," Patrick said. When illness took over John and he couldn't move around, Patrick would put cricket on TV and also simultaneously increase the volume of the radio so that his father doesn't miss the game and Test Match Special's commentary.
After Agnew read Patrick's letter on air during the Test match, messages and tributes started pouring in. Patrick wanted people to donate for Meningitis Research Foundation in honour of his father's legacy. Thousands came forward and donated for the cause, raising £20,000 in his JustGiving page.
Since the letter was read on air during England's Test match against India and also considering the popularity of the sport in the Indian sub-continent, a lot of Indians were connected to the story and donated for the foundation. Patrick remembers that there was one Indian supporter who donated generously and cheekily said now he understands why India lost the Test at Lord's. It was in honour of his father.
Patrick now has two grown-up children. His son, Lucas, who's in his early twenties, also follows sports, which includes cricket just like his father and grandfather. Safe to say, the tradition of following the game and listening to Test Match Special is will go on for few more decades in the family.
John's an ordinary man, but his battles with illnesses are nothing short of extraordinary, and sure there's plenty of inspiration to take. John's life also tells us that the passion for sports can go on to define the person's life. John might have suffered due to health-related complications, but his passion was his tonic, and it was there in abundance.
Sometimes we get messages that are more important than anything that happens out in the middle.
— Test Match Special (@bbctms) August 20, 2018
To vote for Patrick and John in the Laureus Best Sporting Moment for October, click here.