Sarah Taylor, a fine wicketkeeper-batter and one of the leading cricketers in women’s cricket showed off her stunning reflexes, taking a fine one-handed diving catch to dismiss Australia’s Jodie Fields in Hove.
“As soon as I saw her hands go, I just went,” said Sarah Taylor, as she regaled this very moment to Ian Ward, during a Sky Sports Masterclass on wicketkeeping. Taylor had noticed that the Australians had decided on a tactic of reverse-sweeping England’s slower bowlers.
Seeing Australia captain Jodie Fields switch her grip, as Danielle Hazell approached her delivery stride, was enough for Taylor to commit fully to taking this chance. It was a clear example of perception and instinct, perfectly encapsulating the way she plays the game.
That year had been no cakewalk for one of the most gifted cricketers going. In January, during an interview with the Guardian, Taylor had floated the possibility of standing behind the stumps for the Sussex 2nd XI. It was not much of a stretch; Taylor already plays a very high standard of club cricket for Walmley Cricket Club in the Birmingham & District Premier Cricket League.
As ever, the story ran and ran, with many wondering whether she would be safe in the environment, and others unsure that she should be taking the place of, say, a younger academy product. An off-the-cuff thought was now a talking point.
The following month, Taylor collected three ducks in a row as England disappointed at the 2013 World Cup. That summer, she had something to prove and this match, on her home ground, went some way towards doing it, with 64 in England’s successful chase of Australia’s 203.
Fields, right handed, had played the shot perfectly, meeting the ball with the middle of her bat, aiming for vacant space down to third-man. By the point of contact, Taylor was at second slip.
Even so, Fields had got the ball wider and flatter. Taylor, still on the move, dived sharply to her right, sticking out one pristine white keeping mitt.
Fields, confident that her connection meant runs, began setting off down the wicket, watching the ball all the way as it finished nestled in Taylor’s palm.
She admitted later that it was not something that she would ever practise. Yet this was the second time that she had effected this kind of dismissal. “It has to be one of those things that’s completely natural – a genuine reaction.”
You’ve got to be some player if something as glorious as this comes naturally. And Sarah Taylor is.
First published in March 2015