Taylor made to go one better

Claire Taylor & Lydia Greenway

Claire Taylor brings up her hundred in Sunday's World Cup win against Sri Lanka

Clare Connor believes former team-mate Claire Taylor has a score to settle after England’s crushing semi-final defeat in the 2005 World Cup.

Connor, then skipper, was optimistic of beating Australia and reaching the final but, after winning the toss and electing to bat, watched her side slide to 21 for three.

Taylor was one of the three to fall, dismissed for a duck as England were eventually eliminated by a familiar foe.

“No-one was more gutted than me in the 2005 World Cup,” Connor told ecb.co.uk.

“But I remember talking to her [Taylor] and reading some of the things she said in interviews.

"She said for those four years leading up to the World Cup, she really had made cricket her life, so to be knocked over for nothing in the semi-final she found absolutely crushing.

“She thought she'd let everyone down, she'd let herself down, she questioned how much longer she'd play for.”

Fortunately for England, Taylor maintained the same single-minded approach to her cricket despite that setback, working hard on her batting and being rewarded with hundred after hundred.

Last summer she reached her 100th ODI cap during a year where England, helped by Taylor’s runs, won the Ashes and swept aside New Zealand, West Indies, South Africa and India.

When the ICC released their women’s world rankings recently, they announced Taylor as the planet’s top batter – a billing she has lived up to during the first two games of this World Cup where she fired a century against Sri Lanka and finished 69 not out in yesterday’s win over India.

Belinda Clark, Julia Price & Cathryn Fitzpatrick

Belinda Clark, Julia Price & Cathryn Fitzpatrick celebrate Taylor's wicket in the 2005 semi-final

Those two victories booked England a place in the Super Six stage but Taylor, who keeps any personal goals close to her chest, will not be satisfied until she has a hand on the World Cup.

Churning out runs has not always come easily, however, and Connor admits there were doubts whether Taylor, a talented hockey player, would succeed after making her debut against Australia in 1998.

“When she first played 11 years ago, she wasn't successful,” recalled Connor.

“She was limited, too bottom handed, didn't have any off-side shots and was easy to set a field to.

“She then played sporadically from then on, but knew what she needed to do and had an amazing work ethic. She has proved everybody wrong. She put a burgeoning IT career aside to become the best batter in the world.

“I get quite emotional about it because it's such a brilliant story. You don't see that often, someone overtaking everybody and becoming the best by setting her sights on it.

“Laney (England coach Mark Lane) will tell you stories about her, because they have worked together for so long.

“For some people it's enough to have a net session after work. ‘Tails’ will do a day’s work then do a five-mile run before a net so that she's exhausted when she's batting so that she really puts herself under pressure.

“She really is one of a kind, a great example to anyone.”