One of England’s finest wicket-keeper batswomen Sarah Taylor hung her boots from international cricket when she was just 30. Though she played for 13 long years, it is quite rare in the world of cricket that a player retires at 30, especially when he/she is going well. The reason why she called it quits was that she was fighting a battle with anxiety in 2019.
So now is there a chance that Taylor might return to playing cricket? Maybe or maybe not. At 31, she is at present a coach at St Bede’s School in Eastbourne.
“I took my cricket bag to school ready to have a hit this term, to see where my head was at, to see if I wanted to do it again, or if I was terrible and I’d lost it. If I had a good net, maybe I’d think ‘I’ve still got it, I still enjoy this, let’s give it a go’. I haven’t had the opportunity, so I genuinely don’t know,” she says.
Taylor, who has made 226 appearances for England, further adds, “I would love to be a part of a tournament like The Hundred, given it would be its first year if it were to happen. I just want to have a hit and if I realize I’ve missed it, let’s go. If I haven’t, I’m still happy. I don’t feel the need to play again.”
The wicket-keeper bat, who holds the record for most dismissals in women’s cricket is also planning to launch Sussex’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub, the first-class county that has developed an online resource to provide support to the local community. Since she herself was a victim of anxiety which forced her to bid adieu to the sport she loved, she would like to take this initiative which would help to develop the mental health and well-being of people.
— Sussex Cricket (@SussexCCC) January 18, 2021
Her issues with anxiety started sometime in mid-2016, nine months after her momentous achievement in Australia, which was playing grade cricket Down Under. She became the first woman to do so. Before that, she played in Walmley’s first team, becoming the first woman to feature in senior Birmingham club cricket in April 2013. After the Australia stint, she started suffering from panic attacks and that is when she took some time away from the game.
She states, “The extra attention that I was receiving contributed to the battle against the anxiety. There was an expectation there. I didn’t want to be different from any of the girls, but I did feel different through my own insecurities. I ended up pushing myself away from the girls. I was even quite anxious before the game in Australia. I said that I didn’t want attention taken away from the fixture, then I played and spent two hours on the phone doing interviews. There were camera crews there, and all I wanted to do was play cricket with some friends. Other times I’d be playing England games and nearing a hundred, or towards the end of a match-winning inning, and rather than thinking about batting I’d be worried about doing the interview at the end of the game. I didn’t want the recognition. I just wanted to do my job and then go home.”
Playing her last for England in September 2019, there is no doubt that Taylor has weathered the storm of anxiety and is in a better frame of mind. She concludes, “I’m happy. I’m healthier. I’m me.”