Sarah Taylor, one of the most talented wicketkeepers in the history of the game, has announced her retirement from international cricket, having struggled in recent years with a long-term anxiety issue.
Taylor, 30, made her England debut as a 17-year-old in 2006, and went on to make 226 appearances all told. Her tally of 6,533 international runs places her second on England Women’s all-time list of run-scorers, behind her long-term captain, Charlotte Edwards.
In the course of her career, Taylor played key roles in some of England Women’s most memorable triumphs, including the World Cup and World T20 triumphs in 2009, and the unforgettable home World Cup win in 2017, in which she produced key innings of 54 and 45 in England’s semi-final and final victories over South Africa and India respectively.
However, Taylor will undoubtedly be remembered primarily for her work behind the stumps. Her tally of 232 dismissals across formats is a record for women’s internationals, but the style and skill of many of her takes have marked her out as one of the most naturally gifted wicketkeepers of any gender and any era.
The speed of her glovework was matched by her instinct for where the ball was going, not least when pulling off leg-side stumpings, a mode of dismissal which became her trademark when standing up to England’s seamers.
But in recent years Taylor’s anxiety has affected her ability to enjoy the game, and having taken an extended break after England’s semi-final defeat at the World T20 in India in 2016, her appearances had been carefully managed – with her belated recall for the 2017 World Cup offset by her absence from last year’s World T20 in the Caribbean.
“This has been a tough decision but I know it’s the right one,” said Taylor. “For me and for my health moving forward. I can’t thank my team-mates enough, both past and present, and the ECB for being supporters and friends along my journey.
“Playing for England and getting to wear the shirt for so long has been a dream come true and I have been blessed with so many great moments throughout my career. From making my debut in 2006, to Ashes wins, and of course the World Cup final at Lord’s, to name just a few.
“I’ve also been blessed with travelling the world and making lifelong friends along the way.”
Taylor’s final international appearance came during this summer’s drawn Ashes Test at Taunton, when she scored 5 in her solitary innings before withdrawing from the T20 leg of the series to manage her anxiety issues.
England’s disappointing showing in the Ashes – they lost the points-based series 14-4, with a solitary win in the seven matches – led to the resignation of Mark Robinson, the hugely respected head coach who had been so integral in helping Taylor balance her priorities in overcoming her anxiety.
Nevertheless, Taylor’s integral role in helping to grow the profile of women’s cricket, not least through her unique and stylish talents, cannot be understated.
“To be right in the thick of women’s cricket as it’s gone from strength to strength – not only in England, but across the world – has been an amazing experience,” she said, “and I can look back on what women’s cricket has achieved with great pride at playing some small part in it.
“The England girls are role models on and off the field, and they have undoubtedly inspired – and will continue to inspire – so many young people to take up the game, girls and boys. I can’t wait to see the heights that this team can reach.
“I am extremely proud of my career. I leave with my head held high and with excitement for what my future holds and what my next chapter brings.”
Clare Connor, ECB Managing Director of Women’s Cricket, said: “Sarah can be immensely proud of everything she has achieved in an England shirt, and of everything she has done for the women’s game.
“She is someone that young people can look up to, for her achievements and talent on the pitch – but also for her bravery and resilience off it. She has come through significant adversity and performed on the world stage for her country.
“We are very grateful to Sarah for her contributions to English cricket over the last 13 years. She has become a powerful voice within women’s sport and I’m sure she will make a success of the next stage of her professional life. We all wish her the very best.”