Bengaluru, (DHNS): One of the most experienced players in the England women’s cricket team, wicketkeeper-batswoman Sarah Taylor played a pivotal role in her country’s title triumph in the World Cup and World T20 in 2009.
The attacking opener bagged the ICC Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year award in 2014. In 2015, Taylor added another feather to her cap when she became the first woman to play in a men’s ‘A’ Grade match in Australia.
The experience of turning out for Northern Districts against Port Adelaide at Salisbury Oval, in her own words, was something different. Adjusting to the difference in pace and bounce in fine fashion, Taylor drew praise for her fine display behind the stumps.
“It was good fun. Fundamentally, there is not much difference between men’s and women’s cricket. The hardest part was to come to terms with the pace and bounce. Of course, the banter was a little bit different but overall, it was a very competitive game,” recalls Taylor.
A veteran of 101 one-day internationals and 76 T20Is, Taylor said that it was an experience keeping for male pace bowlers in the two-day game. “I learnt a lot. I was standing back for the fast bowlers, unlike in the women’s game where I would stand up to the stumps.
“On the first day, I wondered if I was trying too hard to be someone whom I wasn’t. The next day I realised I am here for a reason. I was quite relaxed and became more focused on the game,” she said on the eve of England’s Group B clash against Bangladesh here at the Chinnaswamy stadium.
It was her desire to raise her game to the next level that landed her the opportunity to share the field with men. “I wanted to challenge myself further. After playing in the women’s club cricket in Australia, I wanted to go one step higher in my game. I enquired about playing in men’s cricket and Northern Districts was the first team to respond. They told me that I would be playing in an ‘A’ Grade game. I was not confident earlier but after training for few days with the guys in the team, I decided to go ahead,” she noted.
In her preparations for the game, Taylor worked hard on strengthening her muscles, which she felt was required due to the nature of the men’s game. “I had to move a lot quicker. I had to work hard on strengthening my muscles in the legs.”
The Sussex player said the opposition treated her like any other player. “They played the game in good spirit. It was nothing like I was a girl so they kept their heads down,” said Taylor.
Taylor said she was at ease sharing the dressing room with the men’s team. “I grew up playing men’s cricket. I am kind of used to the smell and the noise around.”
The 26-year-old said she would want to play more in men’s cricket. “If I get an opportunity again I would love to play the men’s game.”