ENGLAND wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor made history this week by becoming the first female to play Australian first grade cricket – only one tier below First Class cricket. The 26-year-old from London, who plies her trade for Sussex Women here in the UK, made her debut for The Northern District Jets in the South Australian Premier Competition on Saturday 17th October. The 2-day match competition has ran annually since 1873 and has no jurisdiction against fielding females but, despite this, no team had ever done so in its 142 year history.
Her debut is another massive step for women’s cricket but she did point out that she wasn’t even aware of the magnitude of her arrival by saying “I had no idea that I would be the first woman to play at this level in Australia, but I am sure that I won’t be the last”. It is also interesting to note that the sight of women playing at a semi-professional level with men in England is not totally new, just not at this standard. Taylor herself has played in the Birmingham & District Premier Cricket League for Walmley CC men before and fellow England international Kate Cross became the first woman to play in the Central Lancashire League earlier this year, one of the country’s most reputable and traditional leagues, taking 3-19 for Heywood CC.
Taylor had a tough first day at her new home in the field against Port Adelaide after the Jets’ captain and former Australia batsman Mark Cosgrove put the opposition in to bat. It was no surprise that Taylor was asked to don the keeping gear for the match as she is widely renowned as being one of the best gloveman in the international game (male or female). Unfortunately, Taylor did go on to drop one catch but showed her experience and temperament to hang on to the next chance that came her way… pity the standing on-field umpire failed to spot the edge. The day finished with Port Adelaide racking up a respectable total of 227-3 with the second and final day to be played this Saturday, where Taylor is penned to bat at number 8.
Taylor, who will eventually join the likes of current Australian men’s head coach Darren Lehmann and retired fast bowler Ryan Harris as Northern Districts alumni, has also signed to play for the Adelaide Strikers in the inaugural edition of the Women’s Big Bash League. It is generally believed that the WBBL will greatly increase the promotion and exposure of women’s cricket as players from around the world will come together to play in Australia; as well as all matches being on free-to-air in Australia and ITV4 reportedly interested in airing the competition in the UK.
This is of course a massive leap forward in the equality of women in sport, and a huge recognition of their talents and what they bring to the game. Considering the fact that sports such as snooker and darts (both of which are discernably less physically demanding than cricket) this perhaps can be seen as a ‘wake-up call’ for the rest of the sporting world. In addition to the social significance of this, one must not forget that this is Taylor’s achievement. The fruition of years of hard work in a highly illustrious career.
Featured image: Huffington Post