In the summer of 2019, I saw two pieces of fielding which I will never forget. The first was Fran Wilson’s “Catch of the Century” at Chelmsford. The second was at first glance more prosaic.
At Guildford, Surrey Stars were in the field as the ball was run down through backward point and the batsmen jogged through for an easy single. The boundary fielder, having run around from third man, picked up the ball and began the action of throwing it back to the wicket keeper, who was standing casually over the stumps, with one hand on her hip as if queuing for the bus.
As the ball was leaving the fielder’s hand, the keeper nonchalantly stuck out a glove just to her right, and then waited… and waited… for what seemed like an eternity as the ball arched through the air… until finally it popped right into her mit.
I’d actually be surprised if any of the several-hundred people there at Guildford that afternoon even noticed what I’d seen, but it was nonetheless quite remarkable. From the moment the ball had left the boundary fielder’s hand, Sarah Taylor – because… of course that’s who the wicket keeper was – had judged its trajectory consummately and stuck out a hand to exactly where it was going to end up… and it had!
It was Sarah Taylor in a nutshell – the swagger; the poise; and the pitch-perfect execution.
I first met “Squirt” when she was a teenager, and women’s cricket was still a niche attraction being played in front of one man and his dog – I was the man that day… and I didn’t even have a dog! Taylor had already made her England debut, and there was a star quality about her, but also an unpretentious simplicity as she cadged-about for a lift to the train station afterwards, having not yet passed her driving test!
I next encountered her at an England match. Walking around the boundary while England were batting, two young girls of around 10 or 12 grabbed her and asked them to autograph their t-shirts, which of course she did, meanwhile charming them with a few minutes of conversation, which I’m willing to bet those two girls, whoever they were, still remember.
That was Sarah Taylor in a nutshell too – the warmth; the charisma; and the time she had for the fans.
And throughout her career, none of that changed – at the very first match she played after her comeback from her well-documented mental health layoff, she was the first player out to sign autographs and take selfies with the young fans who’d come along to see her play.
With bat in hand, she reminded me of no one more than David Gower – as he was the most naturally gifted batsman of his era, male or female, so was she of hers. At her best she was imperious, with a classical cover drive to die for, though like Gower she could frustrate, as another insouciant waft ended up going to hand.
As a wicket keeper however, she frustrated only the opposition batsmen, with more magic moments than a box of Quality Street – topped by that catch at Hove to dismiss Jodie Fields in the 2015 Women’s Ashes.
The best of her generation? Without a doubt!
The best we’ll ever see? I think so too!
and so say ALL of us!
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I know Sarah qualified as a councillor recently and has expressed a desire to help others who suffers as she does. Any news if Sarah is going to pass on her skills and experience behind the stumps?
The best we will ever see with the gloves and also England’s best batter in recent times.. She can be hugely proud of all she has achieved.
I wonder if Robinson had stayed if her decision might have been different?
Sad news. I remember seating immediately in front of her mother when she won her 1st cap at Derby.
The Ronnie O’Sullivan of cricket. Its difficult for us mere mortals to imagine that having outrageous amounts of talent isn’t a ‘free lunch’. Coping with being that good, in a professional sport, isn’t as easy as one would think. The pressures must be hideous.
Presumably her consummate skills will still be on show at sub-international level.
England are fortunate indeed to have the 2nd best wicketkeeper in the world as well to step into her shoes, er gloves.
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Sad news but perhaps inevitable. What a player she’s been. With the bat, she was one of those players who you’d thought had only just got in and then you’d look up and she’d have a run a ball 30 in the blink of an eye.
Then there’s the wicketkeeping, the best in the world. Not my words, the words of Adam Gilchrist, a man who knows a thing or two about these things. So many great moments, obviously the Jodie Fields catch but the stumping. Trisha Chetty in the World Cup Semi-Final, Sune Luus at Worcester and Dane Van Niekerk at Canterbury last year. Not only that but her positioning to receive run outs particularly in the World Cup final getting rid of Mithali Raj and Pandey.
Fortunately Amy Jones is an extremely capable replacement behind the stumps and it may be a bit left field but would it be worth giving Dani Wyatt a run at 3?
All I can say is Sarah Taylor is one of the greats of the English games. I hope she enjoys her retirement and stays around the England setup.
Well Said Syd
We have got to know Sarah over the last few years and you could not find a warmer, nicer person
I hope she does stick around in the county game so we can continue to enjoy watching her play
All the very best Sarah you are exactly that one of the best!!