Sarah Taylor signs for Northern Diamonds in response to wicketkeeping crisis

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England legend hasn’t played competitively for nearly two years

Sarah Taylor, the former England Women’s wicketkeeper, has come out of retirement a month ahead of schedule, and will make her competitive comeback for Northern Diamonds at Emerald Headingley on Saturday, in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.

Taylor, 32, has not played professionally since retiring at the end of the 2019 season due to her long-term struggle with anxiety issues. But, having returned to the sport as a wicketkeeping consultant for Sussex this season, she was due to resume her playing career for Welsh Fire in the augural season of the Hundred.

However, she has now answered a call from her former England team-mate, Dani Hazell, Northern Diamonds’ coach, following the loss of both of the team’s designated wicketkeepers. Bess Heath is injured and Lauren Winfield-Hill is away on England duty, so Taylor will slot straight into the side against South East Stars this weekend.

“Dani gave me a call and told me that Lauren was going off with England and Bess is injured so they were after a keeper,” Taylor said. “It’s good for me to play in a good competition in preparation for my Hundred stint. It’s kind of a win-win for everyone really, but it was really nice of Dani to think of me.”

In the course of an England career that spanned 13 years and 226 matches across formats, Taylor forged herself a reputation as one of the outstanding wicketkeepers – male or female – in world cricket.

She still holds the record of 51 stumpings in both the ODI and T20I formats, while some of her dismissals, including a leg-side diving catch to dismiss Jodie Fields in the 2013 Ashes – off Hazell’s bowling, no less – have entered folklore.

“It’s going to be a good test for me,” Taylor said. “I might be a little bit rusty but part of the reason for me playing is to get rid of that. Hopefully, I will perform well and can carry on where I left off. If I don’t then it’s okay, it’s just me getting back into the swing of things and remembering what it’s like to keep for 50 overs.

“I know the Diamonds squad is a good one and I’m looking forward to joining them at training tomorrow.”

Northern Diamonds have won two and lost one of their three matches in the RHFT so far – that defeat coming in a thrilling opening game at Headingley that showcased the best of women’s cricket, as Central Sparks chased a stiff target of 280 to win by two wickets.

“You look at the games that have happened so far in the competition and you can really see the development of the women’s game,” Taylor said . “We’re playing on good pitches at good grounds and that is testament to the way the standard is going. Every year it is getting better and better. I’ve got a couple of years to catch up. Hopefully I can do that and we can go well.

“I have played at Headingley before, it’s a great ground and I’ve loved playing there in the past when we’ve had the chance. Playing against the South East Stars, there’s a student of mine from my school playing for them so that will be good fun.”

Reflecting on her return to the sport, both through her Hundred signing and her consultant work at Sussex, Taylor said: “I had to take some time out of the game to gain a little bit of perspective on it, but after everything had settled down, life got back to normal. It was nice to then have the opportunity to look at the game and throw myself into it.

“Once the opportunity came around with Sussex and then the Welsh Fire, it was a really easy decision to come back. Now with the Northern Diamonds, I think I’d be stupid to turn these opportunities down.”

Sarah Taylor

Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy