Ahead of the inaugural MCC v Rest of the World's women match on Monday 19 May at Lord's, cricket writer Raf Nicholson looks at England's star talent Sarah Taylor.
Sarah Taylor (England & MCC)
Wicket-keeper Sarah Taylor made her debut for England in 2006 purely as a batsman, but she was handed the gloves in her first ODI at Lord’s, and has never looked back.
The best wicket-keeper in the women's game
The best wicket-keeper in the women’s game, she attributes some of her success behind the stumps to the agility that wearing hockey pads, instead of full-sized keeping pads, brings her.
With more dismissals in women’s T20Is than anyone else, her glovework was crucial to both of England’s World Cup victories in 2009. Last August at Hove, her catch, diving to her left, to dismiss Jodie Fields off a reverse sweep was labelled by many as the best catch by a wicket-keeper that they had seen in international cricket.
Renowned for her beautiful cover drives, she seems to relish batting against the Australians in particular: she hit her maiden ODI century against them in 2007, before two years later scoring 120 in as many balls to overtake the previous highest individual score against Australia by an Englishwoman in ODIs.
In January this year, she made 50* in the first T20I at Hobart and was at the crease when Edwards hit the winning runs in the Ashes series.
Taylor’s personal career highlight, though, came here at Lord’s in an ODI against South Africa in 2008 when, along with fellow opener Caroline Atkins, she added a world-record 268 for the first wicket, contributing 129. She was ICC’s Women’s T20 International Cricketer of the Year in both 2012 and 2013.
Sarah Taylor on the Lord's Podcasthttp://soundcloud.com/home-of-cricket/the-lords-podcast-february
Other players: MCC v Rest of the World
Mithali Raj (India & Rest of the World)
Mithali Raj has recently been named one of Wisden’s Top Five Women’s Cricketers of all time, the only non-English or Australian cricketer to make the list.
First appointed Indian captain in 2005, her record of results is impressive: her 91* in that year’s World Cup semi-final took India to their first appearance in a global tournament final; and in 2006, scores of 65 and 22* helped her team achieve their first Test victory against England.
In her two previous appearances at Lord’s, she scored 59 and 94*, the latter in the cause of leading India to a tense five wicket victory.
Raj is one of only six women to score a Test double century: her 214 in 2002, against England, was then the highest score in women’s Tests, and took her almost ten hours to accumulate.
It was, wrote Vic Marks, “an innings that oozed class and timing” - an epithet which could be applied to many of her innings. Her elegant strokeplay – which perhaps owes something to eight years’ training as a classical dancer – has seen her score 4,791 ODI runs, placing her fourth on the list of all-time leading run-scorers in women’s ODIs.
Jenny Gunn (England & MCC)
Nicknamed “Trigger” by her teammates, Jenny Gunn’s distinctive bowling action – double-jointed at the elbow – makes her medium-pace seamers supremely difficult to read.
Perhaps because of this she is by far the most miserly of England’s bowlers, with economy rates of 1.78 in Tests and 3.75 in ODIs.
However, she is also England’s all-time leading wicket-taker in ODIs, with 110 wickets at an average of 27.70. The past twelve months have been particularly successful for Gunn, with two five-wicket hauls, against Pakistan in July and New Zealand in October, and a promotion to fifth in ICC’s ODI bowling rankings.
The first woman to join the Nottinghamshire Cricket Academy, she made her debut against South Africa in 2004, aged 17, and won her 100th ODI cap for England in 2012.
She has been England’s vice-captain since June 2010.
As an all-rounder, Gunn’s late-order runs have also been invaluable for England: her 41 in the first innings of the 2009 Ashes Test helped set up the draw for England, to see them retain the trophy; and at Perth in January, she remained at the crease with her captain for 161 balls, making 44 and allowing England to set a competitive fourth innings total for the Australians.
Stafanie Taylor (West Indies & RoW)
Jamaican-born Stafanie Taylor went on her first cricket tour, from Jamaica to Guyana, at just 10 years old.
Though also a talented footballer, she chose cricket because, in her words, “I figured I could travel the world more playing cricket than football”.
West Indies have been the major beneficiary of that decision ever since she emerged on to the international scene with 90 off 49 balls in her T20I debut against Ireland in 2008, aged 17.
An all-rounder, in 2013, she became the only player, male or female, to achieve the number one ODI ranking in both batting and bowling simultaneously.
Taylor, who has opened for the West Indies since she was a teenager, is known for her determined accumulation of runs: at just 19, she became the youngest woman to reach 1,000 ODI runs.
More recently, she smashed her way to the third highest total in women’s ODIs, when she scored 171 against Sri Lanka during the 2013 World Cup.
An offbreak bowler, she also has 149 international wickets to her name, placing her second on the list of all-time West Indian wicket-takers in women’s internationals.
In August 2012, she was the first woman to receive a nomination for ICC’s Cricketer of the Year award. She is the best female cricketer the West Indies has ever produced.
Tickets for the MCC v Rest of the World's women's are still available, click here.