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Jenny Thompson at Lord's
August 14, 2006
Claire Taylor is used to smacking centuries, but today's effort is comfortably her best. Not only is it her career highest, it's the third biggest one-day total ever. And she did it at Lord's.
Once she'd got over the hype of returning to the home of cricket, she soon settled in. "I was very nervous," she admitted after her standout display. "I didn't sleep very well last night. It's a big occasion here, we did need to put on a big performance today."
And they did, although Taylor added candidly that the seaming conditions, against the formidable Amita Sharma and Jhulan Goswami, so often England's nemeses, caused plenty of trouble early on. "I wasn't good enough to get bat on ball," she said. "It was entertaining."
Indeed, she was dropped on 13, at which point her batting partner Charlotte Edwards told her that she would make India pay. Taylor agreed: "At this level you ride your luck, take your chances and cash in later." She duly did, relaxing into her innings and finally ringing up 156 priceless runs from 151 balls.
But the true value of this mellifluous innings will be measured in the future, as will the way both England and India conducted themselves - finely, for the record - when the schedulers and the MCC come to discuss women's international fixtures at Lord's. On today's performance, they ought to be more regular; the last women's one-dayer here was in 2001.
Edwards couldn't have picked a better match to make her home debut as captain. "It's been a really special day," she said. "It's a huge honour and a really great feeling." She went on to reveal that the presence of so many youngsters - Holly Colvin and Sarah Taylor to name just two - had a surprisingly calming effect on the older members, some of whom had already played at Lord's.
"The younger girls just get on with it," Edwards smiled. "It's just a game of cricket for them. People think the older girls are not nervous, but we were." You wouldn't have known it - both generations came together in a seamless performance of polish and skill.
India, of course, are expected to bounce back immediately. "We have more depth than them, but I expect them to come out fighting." So does India's softly spoken, but fiercely determined, captain Mithali Raj. "Our fielding let us down today," she admitted, "but we will always remember the day." As will anyone who saw it - and one Player of the Match in particular.