How Sarah Taylor is ushering the winds of change in cricket

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As a player, Sarah Taylor was known for clearing boundaries with ease. Now a coach, the Englishwoman is breaking them.

With Team Abu Dhabi appointing the former England women’s national cricket team star as the assistant coach for the Abu Dhabi T10 season 5, Sarah Taylor is all set to become the first female coach in men’s professional franchise cricket history.

Sarah Taylor’s appointment could very well turn out to be a watershed moment for cricket, opening up previously uncharted territories for aspiring female cricket coaches around the globe. The women’s cricket icon is cognizant of the magnitude of her Abu Dhabi T10 role and aims to inspire.

“Coming into this franchise world, you get players and coaches coming in from all around the world where it may not necessarily be the norm but I’d love to think that some young girl or some woman watching can see me in the coaching team and realise that’s an opportunity and they can push for it, saying ‘If she can do it, why can’t I?’,” Sarah Taylor said.

Breaking gender norms in cricket, however, isn’t new to Sarah Taylor either. Back in March 2021, she was appointed as the wicketkeeping coach for Sussex, thereby becoming the first female specialist coach for any senior English men’s county team in history.

Even as a player, she was no stranger to shattering stereotypes in the sport. Born in London on May 20, 1989, Sarah Taylor’s schooling was from the prestigious Brighton College.

The school’s unique philosophy of ‘merit over gender’ paved Sarah Taylor’s path from an early age and she, along with future England team-mate Holly Colvin, even became first-team players in the Brighton College boys’ cricket team for inter-school tournaments.

The trend has continued throughout Sarah Taylor’s career, with the dynamic wicketkeeper-batter turning up to play for men’s teams in the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) men’s premier league.

In 2015, she became the first woman to play men’s domestic cricket in Australia after playing for Northern Districts against Port Adelaide at Salisbury Oval in South Australia’s premier men’s cricket competition.

Sarah Taylor made her international debut in 2006, aged just 17, and has gone on to win two ICC Women’s World Cups (2009 and 2017) and the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup (2009) over the course of her 13-year-long career.

By the time she had retired in 2019, Sarah Taylor had amassed 6,533 runs in 226 appearances for England across all formats of the game.

With 227 dismissals to her name – a record in women’s international cricket – she is also regarded as one of the finest wicketkeepers to have ever played the game.

The flashy opener has also won both the ICC women’s T20I and ODI cricketer of the year awards. She is also the first female inductee in the highly-coveted Legends Lane at the County Cricket Ground in Hove.

All this, Sarah Taylor achieved while battling through mental health issues. The English legend was forced to take a year-long hiatus in 2016 owing to her anxiety problems but won her battle and made a comeback in 2017.

The English legend will serve as assistant to head coach Paul Farbrace for Team Abu Dhabi, who also boast the likes of former South African all-rounder Lance Klusener in their coaching staff.

Irrespective of how her Abu Dhabi T10 stint pans out, Sarah Taylor is already a trendsetter for an impending change for good in the cricketing world.

“I do hope that this becomes a little more normal and I may be the first, but I won’t be the last,” Sarah Taylor summed up her mission.

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