There are two Sarah Taylor’s that clearly emerge from a memorable career that at 29 and with 113 ODIs seems to be only just blossoming. There is a white-ball smashing, free-striking, confident dashing batswoman who epitomizes an excellent modern-age athlete on the one hand. And there’s this beautiful cricketing mind that also engages in arduous mental battles in addition to conquering those lying on green pitches and bouncy tracks on the other.
An old-guard of the game, Sarah Taylor refuses to buckle down to pressure.
No stranger to cases of mental anxiety cleaning up one of her noted English compatriots Marcus Trescothick and Jonathan Trott- among the best strikers of the white ball and red ball cricket- Sarah Taylor didn’t step back from this great malady of our times. She instead took her challenger head on and decided to step out of her crease to hit it out of the park, akin to stepping down to a noted stalwart of the game say an Ellyse Perry or Dane Van Niekerk.
For someone who emerged on the international horizon circa 2006, when modern stars like a Lea Tahuhu, Smriti Mandhana, Hayley Mathews hadn’t even arrived, when there was no such thing as a Women’s World T20, to emerging as arguably the best keeping batswoman in the contemporary structure, Sarah Taylor’s career is testimony to the simple albeit valuable lesson we’re taught in school.
It’s something our coaches swear by and our mothers remind us at every stage of life when we are confronted by doubt.
Never Say Die.
Some cricketers are defined by records, the others, by their ability to show their back to doubts and challenges.
Sarah Taylor is defined by both.
A cricketer who, for the better part of past half a decade found it tough to get out of the house, had nearly quit the tour to Australia (2017) and who perhaps at some stage, leading to the 2017 World Cup didn’t look certain of participation has not only found a second wind. But has risen as the poster-girl of dogged determination.
And just how did Sarah Taylor gather in the most celebrated and feted World Cup?
Not only a career-defining 147, her personal best against South Africa but also emerged as the fourth-highest-scorer with 396 runs, in a cricketing extravaganza featuring greats like Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning, Harmanpreet Kaur and, her own team-mate Natalie Sciver.
Where most troubled talents resort to faith and seek refuge in a spiritual calling, Sarah Taylor resorted to the power of faith within her. And resorts to her uncontrollable zest for the game, which springs from a natural love.
A product of resilience and love for the game
It’s what binds her to the sport.
It’s what compels her to extract the best from her craft.
There’s no other plausible explanation to Taylor striking 34 off 44 at Brisbane and pillaging Australia (England’s tour in 2017) under the might of her 69 off 66 at Coffs Harbour other than pointing to her resilience and patience.
There may not be a better inspiration in modern cricket with players submerged in constantly arduous demands and where the envelope of women’s game is constantly expanding other than Sarah Taylor.
A cerebral mind, a devoted athlete committed to upholding England Women’s game, using the characteristic grit and familiar flair to take the attack to bowlers, Sarah Taylor is more than the beautiful glowing smile that marks her persona.
At 29, she’s demonstrated both- the spark in the willow courtesy 6 fluent ODI hundreds and showed electric footwork behind the stumps, with distinctly attractive montages of stumping Ellyse Perry exhibiting rapid feet movement in 2017 and carving South Africa for a 104-ball- 147 in cricket’s grandest carnival marking her signature presence in the game.
It seems the game needs as her much as Sarah Taylor needs the game.
It’s mutual love and one that seems destined to go the long way. How many would you have found going from a strength to another, when confronted by an enormity of inner torment?
At 29, Sarah has featured in many cricketing summers. And also looks set to eclipse many twilight zones lying ahead.