Three and easy for Taylor
Sarah Taylor has quickly adapted to batting at number three for England, scoring a blistering 77 as the tourists won the one-day series against South Africa with a game to spare.
Taylor’s 63-ball knock in stifling heat contained nine fours and took her tally to 110 in two innings since her namesake Claire, the previous incumbent at number three, retired from the international game.
An England women’s record ODI stand yesterday between Taylor and Charlotte Edwards of 159 underpinned a total of 315 for six, which proved 96 runs beyond the hosts and gave great pleasure to the 22-year-old.
“Just batting at three is an exciting time for me and to actually make a contribution is where I’m looking to go and hopefully it continues,” she told ecb.co.uk.
“Batting with Charlotte yesterday was a lot of fun and she’s class to watch. You’re going to get a bit stuck at the non-striker’s end just watching her but it was just a good day all round really and it was just nice to actually contribute."
She added: “I said I would like some more responsibility and it’s good that England have entrusted me with that.
“It’s definitely some big boots to fill as Claire Taylor was a fantastic player but I’m just looking forward to it and hopefully the contributions keep coming.”
Taylor’s new role is a significant challenge given she also keeps wicket, a job she said was not a problem despite yesterday’s heat in Potchefstroom.
“It’s one of those things I’ll have to work on. I’m probably as fit now as I ever have been,” she continued.
“I know it’ll be tougher hopefully batting for a long time and having to keep for 50 overs. Yesterday in the heat was a pretty big task but it felt fine and I feel fine today so hopefully fitness-wise it won’t be an issue.”
With next September’s World Twenty20 and the 50-over World Cup defence in 2013 both on the sub-continent, Taylor believes playing in hot conditions now can only help.
“You have to deal with the temperature. Come the World Cup in India and the Twenty20 in Sri Lanka it’s going to be hot there as well,” she said.
“So it’s all preparation and the team are dealing with it very well so hopefully the heat in India and Sri Lanka won’t be much problem.”
Edwards, whose 138 yesterday was her fifth ODI century, put on 88 with opening partner Danni Wyatt before her record-breaking stand with Taylor.
Wyatt’s 37 was her highest ODI score and Edwards expects much more from the 20-year-old.
“She’s showing real glimpses of brilliance,” the captain said. “Yesterday she played superbly well. She’s a really talented young batter who is getting better all the time.
“I’m sure the more she plays opening the batting, the more she’ll flourish. I think she compliments me really well, which is good, and we’re expecting more from her. There’s more in the tank, I think.”
Edwards, Wyatt and Taylor form an imposing top order ahead of Lydia Greenway and Arran Brindle, who added an unbroken 218 in Friday’s first game - the second highest fourth-wicket partnership in women’s ODIs.
“I think batting is our real strength,” Taylor added. “We’ve got Laura Marsh coming in at number eight, who opens in Twenty20 cricket, so there’s real depth to our batting.
“But something we talk about is people taking ownership and taking responsibility and scoring big runs. That’s been the most pleasing thing for me on this trip is that when people have got in they’ve got big scores, which probably in the past we haven’t done.”
Edwards also has cause for optimism with England’s bowling and fielding.
After the world’s top-ranked ODI bowler, Katherine Brunt, was ruled out of the tour on Saturday with a back injury, debutante Georgia Elwiss and Jenny Gunn shared the new ball.
Although they went wicketless and at five an over, Edwards was impressed.
“Georgia Elwiss did brilliantly on her debut,” she said. “I don’t think her figures necessarily reflected how well she bowled yesterday; to come in first game and lead our attack with Katherine not there, she did really, really well.
“Jenny Gunn, who hasn’t bowled a lot in the last year for us, took the new ball and did a great job.
“People are standing up when we need them, which is the sign of a good team, the spinners are bowling really well in the middle phase and we’re showing good signs of improvement within our bowling.
“Our fielding is something we’ve prided ourselves on and that was back to our usual standard yesterday, which is good.”
Edwards wants a similarly impressive all-round display in tomorrow’s final ODI, with three Twenty20 internationals to follow.
“We’ve got to keep the momentum with us,” she concluded. “Especially tomorrow’s game is important going into the T20s. We’ve taken a first hand in the one-day series and we want to go 3-0 up.
“Our goal when we came out here was to win all six games so we’ll be disappointed if we don’t. That’s what keeping the girls motivated and we want two big series wins under our belts when we leave South Africa.”