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by Saksham Mishra & Cricket World Wednesday 20 May 2020
When Taylor removed Dane van Niekerk, gathering a half volley from pace bowler Katherine Brunt, Adam Gilchrist made a bold claim, calling her the best wicketkeeper in the world - male or female. And, when it comes from Gilchrist, one of the all-time best himself, there's no reason to think otherwise.
The former England wicketkeeper made her international debut as a 17-year-old in 2006 with a run-a-ball 61 in her fourth ODI against India. Early next year, she struck her maiden international century against Australia in Chennai. In two year's time, Taylor become the youngest women’s cricketer to 1000 ODI runs in September 2008.
Taylor went on to become the most successful keeper across formats in the women’s game, with a tally of 232 dismissals across formats. She affected some of the sharpest stumpings standing up to the stumps, not only off spinners but also off quicks.
Taylor was a vital member of the England team that won two world titles in 2009 - the 50-over World Cup and World T20. She graduated into a senior member of the England side by the time the team won the 2016 World T20. But, it was after the triumph that her struggle with anxiety began.
It was her coach Mark Robinson who first noticed that Taylor had begun to detach herself from the group. The same year, she took an indefinite break from cricket, but returned to win her team the World Cup in 2017. She did not allow her personal issues to impact her game and added 396 runs in the World Cup at an average of 49.5.
Taylor partnered Tammy Beaumont for a 275-run partnership against South Africa. She contributed 147 in the partnership that was the highest in the tournament's history. Apart from the big knock, she also struck an unbeaten 74 in a chase of 205 against Sri Lanka, and made match-winning contributions of 54 and 45 in narrow semi-final and final wins.
“I have always believed that the most feared wicketkeepers are the ones that don’t really say much,” Taylor said in an interview. “But they have a presence about them behind the stumps – you just know that they are just there. I want the batsman to know that if they leave the crease, they are gone. I’ve already got the ball in my hands, I’m taking their stumps and they’re just gone. I want them to have that in their brain even before I have caught the ball.”
Taylor is also known for her many path-breaking moves. Quite early in her career, Taylor broke into the Brighton College boys’ team, a breeding ground for the A league. She also became the first woman to ever play in the Darton first XI, and made her debut for a senior men’s cricket team after moving to Walmley cricket club, in Sutton Coldfield, representing them in the Birmingham and District Premier League.
She played her last International match at 30, a Test against Australia at Taunton, in July 2019. She finished with 10 Tests, 126 ODIs and 90 Twenty20s, scoring a total of 6533 runs with seven ODI centuries – no one else has scored more than two in matches where they also kept wickets.
Her 232 international dismissals are the most by any wicket-keeper in women's cricket. Taylor won the ICC Women's T20I Cricketer of the Year awards thrice and ICC Women's ODI Cricketer of the Year award once.
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