Sport

Sarah Taylor to make cricket comeback with Welsh Fire in the Hundred

Sarah Taylor will make her cricketing comeback in the Hundred this summer after blowing the dust off her kit bag and rediscovering her old swagger with the bat.

Taylor called time on her stellar England career in 2019 amid issues with anxiety and has not been seen on a cricket field since turning out for Surrey Stars, in the now defunct Kia Super League, that season.

However, after her recent groundbreaking appointment as wicketkeeping coach at Sussex – believed to be the first woman to hold such a role in the men’s game – a net session this year persuaded the 31-year-old she was ready to make an on-field return, too.

Taylor, who has signed to play for Welsh Fire, said: “I genuinely had to blow dust off my cricket bag. I had one [net session] and it went pretty well. I felt absolutely fine. I wasn’t scared of the idea of playing, whereas before I was.

“I don’t really feel like I’ve got much to lose by playing [in the Hundred], I just get to enjoy myself. I could have the worst tournament in the world but I know that I will probably love every minute because I’ve got my job as a coach at Sussex.”

With two 50-over World Cup wins on her CV, as well as the T20 World Cup in 2009 and three Ashes victories, Taylor’s signature represents a huge coup for the England and Wales Cricket Board as it looks to finally launch the eight-team 100-ball project.

It also fulfils a couple of Taylor’s personal ambitions, with the Hundred placing women’s cricket on the same platform as the men’s game for the first time – even if a marked wage gap exists – and the deal at Welsh Fire meaning she will play alongside Meg Lanning, Australia’s all-conquering captain.

Taylor said: “A female tournament in this country and we’re all paid, I think it’s massive for the women’s game. We lose a lot of girls playing cricket because they need to go out there and get jobs. [And] it’s like one team and two squads. To have the guys and girls on the same wavelength and helping each other will benefit both.

“A draw for me was also playing with Meg Lanning, that’s always something that I’ve wanted to do for quite a few years. I’m fed up of fetching her balls. Take into account her leadership skills – which I can’t wait to learn from in terms of my coaching – and the fact she’s phenomenal as a batter, she would be your ideal player in any team.”

More than 6,500 international runs puts Taylor in a similar bracket, so too the silken glovework that prompted Adam Gilchrist to dub her the best wicketkeeper across the men’s and women’s game in 2018. But while modestly unsure whether she will take the gloves for Welsh Fire, Taylor fancies her batting has undergone something of a reset.

“[In the nets] I was batting like I was when I was back in 2006 when I made my debut. I played everything on the front foot when I was younger and was looking to take the attack to the bowler; dominate down the ground, with a bit of flair. But I sat back foot towards the end [of my England career], with no confidence.

“So it was nice to come back to the nets and feel that ego, that aggression – that dismissiveness. I used to have that as a player. I just lost that, so to get that back and bat like I used to was nice. There was a little bit of arrogance, which I’ll need.”