By Dominic Farrell
Sarah Taylor claimed England Women were dealt “a wake-up” call before overcoming South Africa to take the NatWest International T20 series at Wantage Road.
England have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match rubber after skipper Charlotte Edwards continued her imperious form by carrying her bat for 75 not out.
Edwards’ knock formed the backbone of an imposing 141 for three but South Africa raced to 46 for one after the six-over powerplay to find themselves firmly in the contest.
Opener Dane van Niekerk was particularly impressive on the way to 34 but her dismissal by Jenny Gunn preceded a run of five wickets in 15 balls as the Proteas subsided to 99 all out.
“It was almost a little bit unnerving at the end of the powerplay,” said wicketkeeper Taylor. "They came out well at us and it was probably a bit of a wake-up call that this game’s not easy and they’re not going to go down without a fight.
“I think it was good for us to get that little bit of a hammering in the first six and actually wake up and start playing the cricket we’re used to playing.”
Edwards made it back-to-back unbeaten half centuries in the series, passing 50 for the fourth consecutive international innings.
Taylor accompanied her long-time team-mate during a run-a-ball 15 and believed the captain’s knock gave England a buffer to get them through some testing early exchanges with the ball.
“Charlotte Edwards is world class - with performances like that you’re going to win most games,” Taylor said.
“If you actually have a look at most of us, when we get in there and she’s in that form we just want to give her the strike.
“It’d be the same with any other batsman. She was hitting some phenomenal shots that you could only dream of playing.”
If the first half of the contest belonged to Edwards, Taylor captured the imagination during the closing stages with three excellent stumpings.
That two of those dismissals came while standing up without a helmet to pace duo Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt made her quicksilver work all the more remarkable.
Despite coming uncomfortably close to wearing a ball in the face during Monday’s nine-wicket win over the same opponents at the Essex County Ground, Taylor insists there is no daredevil element to her eschewing protective headgear with the keeping gloves on.
“I judge it on the wicket,” she added when discussing standing up to the quick bowlers. “That wicket was a little bit up and down the other day. It was probably the first time that I’ve considered wearing one.
“But this was a really good wicket with quite true bounce. You’ve got to accept that there can be a top edge, I guess…
“I struggle with the helmet on. That’s purely the reason, I’m not just trying to be annoying. It’s out of personal choice to keep it off.”