England women start in style

Claire Taylor

Claire Taylor frees her arms during her fine innings of 83, made off just 70 deliveries

England women extended their impressive run of form with a comprehensive victory over South Africa in the opening match of the NatWest Series at Canterbury.

The hosts, who returned from Australia with the Ashes earlier this year and outclassed West Indies last month, stepped up their preparation for next year’s World Cup by administering a crushing 121-run defeat on the Proteas.

England amassed a challenging 254 for six in 50 overs before bowling the tourists out for just 133 inside 42 overs.

Claire Taylor, the Vodafone Player of the Year, led the way with a splendid 83 off just 70 balls, while left-arm spinner Holly Colvin took the bowling honours for England by claiming 3-17.

Claire Taylor built on the solid foundation provided by Sarah Taylor and Caroline Atkins, who made 56 and 38 respectively after England were put in to bat.

They shared an opening stand of 99 before Claire Taylor and captain Charlotte Edwards (38) added the same amount for the fourth wicket.

Edwards was one of two victims for Ashlyn Kilowan, while Sunette Loubser returned figures of 2-43.

South Africa’s reply was undermined by the loss of regular wickets, with Isa Guha striking twice early on to help reduce them to 37 for three.

Though Olivia Anderson stemmed the tide somewhat with a patient 35, and wicketkeeper Trish Chetty hit a valiant unbeaten 33, they could not prevent South Africa being bowled out with more than eight overs to spare.

Trish Chetty & Sarah Taylor

Trish Chetty watches Sarah Taylor go aerial as she adds 99 for the first wicket with Caroline Atkins

If Colvin was statistically England’s best bowler, Guha deserves credit for economical figures of 7-3-18-2 and Edwards completed a useful all-round display by mopping up the tail to finish with 2-16.

Claire Taylor, who was named player of the match, said: “It’s brilliant to be playing international cricket again after our taster against the West Indies in July.

“I was pleased to be able to make a major contribution to the game today and spend some time in the middle."

The second game of the five-match series takes place at Lord's on Friday, a clash both Taylor and Edwards are relishing.

“I’m very excited about going back to Lord’s and looking forward to the butterflies as I walk out through the long room to bat again," said Taylor.

Edwards added: “I’m really happy with the convincing start to the series. There were some good individual performances from the two Taylors.

“We’re really looking forward to continuing with this form as we head into Lord’s on Friday.”