Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Taylor-made for cricket

There has been a great deal of media speculation over the fact that Sarah Taylor is in discussions with Sussex, the county she represents in the women's game, with regard to her possibly stepping in to help out the men's Second XI if they are short of a wicketkeeper in the early part of the season. I am not sure that it was meant to be any big deal. The two keepers in the Sussex Academy are both still at school, so will be unavailable for the first few weeks of the season.

Sarah is a fine keeper and the standard of Second XI cricket is unlikely to be much higher than Sarah has played in international women's cricket. She would be a decent bat at 7 or 8; standing back is merely a question of getting used to the pace of the bowlers; and she will be better than many keepers at standing-up as she does it the majority of the time she keeps in the women's game. Will she play? Yes I think she might if circumstances dictate (I do not think she will be chosen ahead of Callum Jackson, who is 18 and just about to embark on a tour with England U19s to South Africa), and I am sure she will give a good account of herself. It would be a huge step from there into the First XI however and one that is too big to see being overcome in the near future by Sarah or any other player.

Play or not the best thing to come out of this story is the fact that it has attracted media coverage. Hopefully the next time you will see Sarah's image on the front cover of a national newspaper will be when she hits the
Great news for Women's Cricket
winning run in the final of the Women's World Cup in a month's time.

At the same time all this shamozzle (as Nasser Hussein might call it) was happening, another Taylor, namely Staphanie, was proving that she too was a force to be reckoned with in the women's game. The West Indian is currently ranked 2nd in the world in the ICC's ODI batting rankings, one ahead of Sarah, and was part of the West Indies' team that was taking on South Africa in a five match ODI series, prior to both teams heading to the WWC. Not that you are likely to have heard much about the series, unless you have tried very hard to find out what has been happening. 

To give the West Indies Cricket Board some credit they did decide to livestream over the internet the fixed camera feed that is used to film the games for the team's own analysis. It was limited but it did at least give a view of the batsmen (I cannot bring myself to keep using the word "batters") and the bowlers. But that is where they stopped - they failed miserably to give any twitter or facebook updates on the score; there was no live scoreboard available anywhere on the net; and there was no commentary with the exception of the second half of the first game, and the whole of the second, when we understand a volunteer agreed to step forward and take it on. The three games in Dominica had no commentary at all.

The international players who played out a very good and competitive series deserved better. The livestream attracted around 200 watchers at any one time during the game, but many others would have been turned off by the fact that they did not know who was batting or bowling or what the score was. I resorted to scoring the last game in the series myself from the livestream feed and tweeted updates. At least then the pictures made sense. The West Indies and South Africa are emerging from the shadows of women's cricket, but they need to make a greater effort at exposing their sport to their own potential players and to the eager world that sits in front of a computer screen or a mobile phone.

Finally what is it about the surname "Taylor" - Is there a more popular name in top flight cricket? As well as Sarah and Staphanie, there was of course Claire Taylor - the first woman cricketer to be one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year back in 2009. Add to them Ross Taylor of New Zealand; James Taylor of England (not the singer/songwriter but the little chap in the cycling helmet); Mark Taylor former Aussie captain; and from the dim and distant past Bob Taylor, former England wicketkeeper. Is it possible that they can all trace their ancestry back to some great cricketing Taylor of the past? Just a thought.


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