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Category: Sarah Taylor

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Sarah Taylor to make limited England return on upcoming tour

Taylor to play three ODIs as she continues to manage anxietyKatherine Brunt also returns to squad after back injurySarah Taylor will make a limited return to the England squad for their upcoming tour to the subcontinent, as she continues to manage her …

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The Guardian women’s cricketer of the year 2018: Sarah Taylor

The England wicketkeeper is the inaugural winner of the award after a year impressing behind the stumps, coping with anxiety and raising mental health awarenessThe Guardian Women’s Cricketer of the Year is an award given to a player who has done someth…

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Fans choose sacked Charlotte Edwards as England women’s player of the year

• Award shows popularity of ousted captain remains undiminished
• Possible replacement Sarah Taylor announces break from the game

Charlotte Edwards has been named the supporters’ choice for England women’s player of the year, a week after being sacked as captain and forced into retirement from international cricket by the news she would not be selected for the foreseeable future.

Related: England captain Charlotte Edwards’ world ‘turned upside down’ by sacking

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Sarah Taylor and Heather Knight see England home over South Africa

• South Africa Women 196; England Women 150-3
• England Women win by seven wickets (D/L method)

Mark Robinson’s tenure as England women’s coach got off to a fine start as four wickets from Anya Shrubsole and a composed innings from Sarah Taylor provided the central planks of a rain-affected seven-wicket victory over South Africa in Benoni.

After South Africa stumbled to 196, having opted to bat first, England’s chase was twice delayed by rain, and they eventually required a revised target of 150 in 35 overs. The experienced pair Taylor and Heather Knight shared 52 to see them home with 39 balls to spare.

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The alternative Sports Personality of the Year award – in pictures

Ahead of the 2014 ceremony, we take a look at seven sportsmen and women who deserve recognition but failed to make the shortlistYarnold: To get four female nominations is fantasticMcIlroy: Spoty win would be major boost Continue reading…

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Charlotte Edwards steers England to T20 success against South Africa

England 141-3; South Africa 99 Captains unbeaten 75 gives hosts 2-0 series lead Continue reading…

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Sarah Taylor carries Englands hopes after India turn the screw

England 92 & 110-6; India 114 Timid England batting gives tourists upper hand Continue reading…

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England women reach World Twenty20 final after beating South Africa

South Africa 101; England 102-1 (England win by 9 wkts) England to face Australia in Sunday’s showpiece Continue reading…

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England’s women cruise into semi-final with dominant victory over Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka 85-9; England 86-3. England win by seven wickets Sarah Taylor and Anya Shrubsole superb for England

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Women’s World Twenty20: England back on track with defeat of India

India 95-9; England 98-5 (England win by 5 wkts) Anya Shrubsole and Jenny Gunn tie up India

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Edwards helps England retain Ashes

Women’s Ashes: Charlotte Edwards was in devastating form to set up a crushing nine-wicket winBarney Ronay

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England’s women hope to learn from men’s Ashes mistakes in Australia

• Squad will take heed after humiliation of Alastair Cook’s side
• The holders know ‘the Aussies will come out harder’

The parallels are obvious and have not been lost on England’s women before they begin their Ashes defence. They were victorious in the home series, just as the men were. But they have seen Alastair Cook’s side humiliated down under since then, leaving them under no illusions that winning the Ashes in England is not quite the same as winning it in Australia. Same sport, different game.

At least watching the men suffer has given the women, who flew from London to Perth on Monday, some useful tips on how to avoid the same fate. England women, who play a Test in Perth on 10 January before three one-day internationals and three Twenty20s, lost when they were last in Australia for the 2010–11 Ashes series and know that gaining revenge at home means little.

“The men went out there off a big summer and we’re going out there with the same thing, so it doesn’t mean that gives us the edge,” Katherine Brunt, the fast bowler, said. “I think it’s been good for us watching how the men have gone about their business out there and how the wickets have played and how Australia have reacted to losing in the summer.”

Australia have warned England to expect aggression and Sarah Taylor, the wicketkeeper and top-order batswoman, agrees with Brunt’s analysis.

“The Aussies will come out harder,” she said. “Before the summer we lost to the Aussies in two World Cups in the winter, so we had a point to prove and came out fighting, so they’re going to do the same.”

But, without being unkind, what has been learnt from the men’s toil? “It’s a difficult question,” Brunt says. “A Test match is a long period of time. It’s a long time for you to concentrate, to make the right decisions all the time and a lot of the time if you make one bad decision you can change a game around completely.

“It’s about making the right decisions at the right time and adapting to the heat and playing well tactically. Don’t miss your opportunities. There were a lot of dropped catches and missed stumpings, so we’ve got to take our opportunities when we create them.”

The England team know they must deal with the pressure from the home crowd but believe that can help them develop a siege mentality.

“When you’re out in Australia, it feels like the whole country is against you,” Heather Knight, who scored a Test century in the home series, added. “We’re going to try to use that to our advantage and group together as Team England. We’ll use that as motivation to go out and beat the Aussies. They’re going to come hard at us. Hopefully no one will tell us they’re going to break our arms. We’ll be prepared mentally. Against Australia there’s always that competitive streak. You get a bit fiery at times. It’s good banter. It’s cricket banter.”

Then there is the heat. “It’s going to be 40 degrees and cricket is a sport where you can be out in the sun eight hours a day,” Brunt said. “That’s quite brutal when you’re sprinting in to bowl in long periods over four days. The heat can play a massive factor in it if you’re not careful and recovery is key in between each day. That can play a big part. We need to stay focused. With the profile of our game raising, keeping concentrated on the job in hand is crucial as well.”

England’s players do not have enough space in their busy schedules to fly off for warm-weather training – “You value all the time you have at home,” Taylor says – so they have had to improvise in order to prepare for the conditions.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work,” Taylor added. “Up in Loughborough we’ve had the heating on when we’ve been doing our indoor sessions, so that’s been quite interesting. The coaches have enjoyed it less than we have but that’s really helped.

“I know a few of the girls have done a few of the sessions in a heat chamber up at Loughborough as well but it is a bit of a shock to the system when you get out there. There’s only so much preparation you can do, so it’s about using the 10 days we’ve got before the Test match to prepare as best we can and be ready for it.”

England are ready for anything Australia throw at them.

The 2014 Women’s Ashes Series T20s will be exclusively live on Sky Sports

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How Charlotte Edwards overcame the odds to become an Ashes-winning captain

Leading Huntingdonshire boys was the start of it for England’s captain, who now sits on an MCC committee with Steve Waugh and Geoff Boycott

‘It was lonely for me and really tough,” Charlotte Edwards says as a tangle of emotions tumble through her on a sun-kissed, autumnal afternoon at Ramsey cricket club. “Every match was such an ordeal,” the England women’s cricket captain recalls while gazing across the ground where she learned to play the game. “Everyone was looking at me, wondering what I was trying to prove, or just sniggering at the fact that a girl wanted to play cricket. I was the only girl and I had to prove myself again and again.”

Edwards is neither isolated nor ostracised today because, having recently led England to victory in the Ashes and preparing for another winter tour, which leaves for the West Indies and New Zealand this week, she is about to be feted at her club near Huntingdon.

Her father and uncle both captained Ramsey’s first team and on the clubhouse wall there is a very old-fashioned photograph of Edwards. In that surreal portrait she wears a skirt and looks shyly at the camera. Edwards was only 16 then and she had just made her England debut – at a time when women were still expected to play international cricket in skirts. It is different now. The club is thronged with people who want to pose for snapshots on their phones of them standing next to Edwards and the Ashes trophy.

Before Edwards is whisked away to be the star of the show, she talks in stark detail of how difficult it was to reach this point. It might be sparked by the fact that we are sitting near the boundary at Ramsey, a long way from everyone else, but it seems an apt time to remember some more distant hurt when her desire to play cricket was questioned and mocked. Something previously unspoken opens up in the 33-year-old as her usually guarded persona slips away. Devoid of sentimentality and self-pity, her words are striking.

“I was always nervous as to how I would be accepted,” Edwards says, remembering how, between 12 and 16, she captained the boys’ county team for Huntingdonshire. “You’d turn up for a county match, away, and they’d look at you like you were mad. Why would you need a ladies’ changing room? What was a girl doing playing cricket? My dad was a farmer and my mum didn’t drive. So I’d go off on my own. Some of the guys from the club were also in the county side and their dads drove us to games. They’d make me laugh on the way because they could see I was churning inside. They would try and protect me – but there was only so much they could do.”

Edwards looks up and her cool expression flares briefly. “It was more the mums and dads sniggering at me and saying: ‘What are you doing?’ when they realised I’d turned up to play cricket.

“Without my mum and dad there, I had no one to run to. But you know what? I didn’t really care. I was quite a tough thing – and single-minded – and I wasn’t going to let those parents get in my way. When I walked out on to the field I held my head high. I wanted to show all of them I could really play.

“Still, it’s interesting. I go to functions now and some of those same parents come up and say: ‘Oh, I’ve followed your career ever since that game.’ I think: ‘I bet you have.’ It’s a fickle world but, like at 12, I just get on with it. My dad always told me I should do my talking on the pitch.”

Edwards was such a gifted cricketer that she obliterated the apparent hurdle of her gender. “From the age of 12 they’d say: ‘Charlotte’s the best player, so she captains the team.’ I loved captaincy and making a difference on the field. So once the games began I was really happy and some of my friends from the club, the lads I played with in that county side, were brilliant and protective of me.”

It sounds as if Edwards, a steely and resilient woman, did not need much protecting. “No, once the first ball was bowled I was in my element. I’m a very competitive person. I was born that way.”

Even at her most nervous, during her boys’ county debut, Edwards displayed composure and skill. “That was the turning point,” she says, “the first game I played for Huntingdonshire Under-12s against Hertfordshire. I’ll never forget it. I got 30-odd not out and a guy called Mickey Dunn watched me play. He was best friends with an England selector and he called her up and said: ‘I’ve just seen this girl. You need to tap her up.’ I was 12 and that summer I got picked for England Under-19s – which sounds incredible. It was my first country game and I performed like that.”

Four years later Edwards was playing international cricket and, as she says now: “What I’d been through in those earlier years made playing for England so much easier. I had got used to having to perform every week in boys’ teams, under real scrutiny, from a very young age. Mentally it made such a difference because if you can put up with that stuff then you’re really in a good place. It felt so easy when I played for England. Everyone was expecting me to be there and so it was brilliant.”

Edwards still had to “pay for my own England blazer and warm-up shirt. When I see how women’s cricket has evolved it’s unrecognisable. A career as a women’s cricketer is now a viable option”.

So many battles have been won, even if many still remain for women’s cricket, that Edwards can now take a simpler sporting pride in the way England overcame the disappointment of finishing third in the World Cup this year to sweep aside the winners of that tournament, Australia, in an Ashes series contested over all three formats of the game – a Test match followed by 50-over and Twenty20 contests.

“Looking back to March, I was in a pretty low place after we lost the 50-over World Cup [in India]. We’d started in the worst possible fashion, losing to Sri Lanka, when missing Sarah Taylor and Laura Marsh, but sometimes credit has to go to the opposition. We still think that if we’d made the final we would have won it, but that’s tournament cricket. You have to win the important group games but the girls are a great, resilient bunch. We knew we weren’t miles away from the Aussies but we were under a lot of pressure this summer. That was so satisfying because you always doubt yourself – especially after disappointment – but we won the Ashes and now we’ve got a massive six months. After the West Indies and New Zealand we go to Australia and retaining the Ashes is a huge ambition.”

England and Australia will play games under floodlights just before their men’s teams meet each other in Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney. The idea of playing in front of packed crowds clearly appeals to Edwards but she is more intent on preparing her team in conjunction with the new head of performance Paul Shaw and David Capel, the former England player who now coaches the women’s team. “They’re very good and I’ve known Capes a long time – since he coached me at the academy at Northants between 16 and 21. It’s great to be back working with someone who knows me so well.”

Edwards has led England for seven years but, she says now: “I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been. I’ve got a huge passion for cricket and this year has galvanised me. I’m improving tactically and especially with the off-the-field stuff in motivating the girls. We’ve also got a full-time analyst now, who’s been so helpful. He only began working with us for the first time during the Ashes and it was incredibly useful. It’s helping me improve as a player and a captain.”

The last time I interviewed an England women’s cricketer, when meeting Sarah Taylor this year, there was a small “circus” of publicity – as Edwards describes it. Intense debate followed Taylor’s revelation that there was a chance she might play a game of second-team men’s cricket for Sussex. “It went crazy for a few days,” Edwards says, “but the feedback was amazing. Most people were very supportive. I watched a programme where Steve Harmison and Angus Fraser discussed it and they didn’t think it was ridiculous. Their attitude was if you’re good enough you should play. It showed how things have changed.”

Edwards is as interested in her role as a member of the MCC’s world cricket committee – which meets twice a year when she sits alongside former cricketers as diverse as Geoffrey Boycott and Steve Waugh. “I’ve been overwhelmed by how I’ve been welcomed. I was a bit apprehensive but even Geoffrey has been great.

“I honestly went into those meetings thinking Boycott might be my biggest challenge, but he’s been lovely. He’d watched us in India and he told me where we needed to improve.

“It’s all very interesting because we talk about world cricket and I’ll report on the women’s game. They’ll ask me for my opinion on DRS and I get a chance to hear all these great players. I try not to be intrusive or too much of a geek. When I first met Steve Waugh I was a bit starstruck but he was lovely and knew quite a lot about the women’s game and he knew who I was. I was like: ‘Oh my God!’ You always hope your hero lives up to your expectations – and he definitely did. He came across very hard and tough as a captain, as I can do, but he’s definitely got that softer side off the field. I chatted to him again in August and he was so down to earth.”

There is something Waugh-like in Edwards – with the bat and as a captain and also in the way she encourages her team-mate Taylor while reminding her of the need to add more to her game. “She’s undoubtedly the most talented female cricketer I’ve ever played with and I’m in awe of what she can do, but she can still improve from a consistency point of view. We expect her to get better and better.”

Is Taylor, especially as a wicketkeeper, or even Edwards, good enough to one day play some form of men’s representative cricket ? “I personally don’t see it as an avenue for me. I’m happy for the girls to do what they want to do but men’s and women’s cricket are very different.

“If you wanted to play men’s cricket you’d have to train with that intensity and develop a different skills-set. From my perspective, it’s about the England women’s cricket team. I think we should focus on the women’s game.”

Edwards smiles wryly again. “Anyway, I’ve won my own battles. I did it all those years ago, as a girl in boys’ teams. I don’t need to go back there. I’m far happier playing women’s cricket.”

Follow the England Women’s winter tours at ecb.co.uk/women

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