Sarah Taylor set to play men's cricket

In 2013 a woman will play top-class cricket alongside the men. The woman in question is the extraordinary Sarah Taylor, already a star of the formidable England women’s team and now ready to don the wicket-keeping clubs alongside the professional male players.

Mark Lane, the coach of the England women, has recommended Taylor to Sussex as a back-up keeper. "He is looking at me getting some games with the second XI at Sussex," she told The Guardian, "and that will be just phenomenal cricket. The plan is also for me to play some early-season games for the MCC boys. Mark is trying to get me a lot of men's cricket, which can only help my game."

Lane’s belief in her is strong, but Taylor is hesitant about asserting her ability to play first-class cricket against faster bowlers wielding a larger, heavier ball. "Part of me knows it would be phenomenal," she said. "But there's part of me doubting myself. I've just got to start believing in myself a little bit more. But I would love to do it. It would be such a challenge – facing a bigger ball and bigger bowlers. But I'd have to look at myself after the second XI games and say: 'Can you handle this?'"

It would hardly be an entirely novel experience playing alongside men. She has been doing it since she started in her school team at Brighton college, and presently plays in a high-standard men’s club league. At just 23, Taylor is already being mentioned by some as the greatest woman cricketer to date. Playing first-class cricket at county level would be a revolutionary step for international sport.

In the meantime, Taylor has an important women’s tournament in her immediate sights. She is flying out to India to defend England’s title in the Women’s World Cup.

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