Sarah Taylor is a troublemaker. That's coming from her mum, by the way. She can't sit still. Out there, beyond her current surroundings - beyond the game of cricket itself - are things that intrigue her. And for Taylor, intrigue equals challenge.

That's not to say that she needs to scale literal heights to get a buzz. In her own world, she takes measures to test her limits. Not wearing pads to keep wicket was one, though she doesn't like wearing keeping pads anyway. At 18, she was told she had to wear a helmet. So she didn't. Taylor's whippet hands kept her teeth out of trouble and continue to guard her knees and shins.

But not all challenges have been taken in her stride. For all the self-confidence that Taylor possesses - the sort that allows England coach Mark Robinson to assign her the job of "winning matches" - she is open about the human emotions that, at times, seep into her game and ruin the cogs.

Last winter, she became the first woman to play Australian Grade cricket when she turned out for Northern Districts against Port Adelaide in South Australia. It was no big deal for her: she'd spent much of her life playing men's cricket. Sure, she was the first, but Taylor has been a first at a lot of things. Not for the media. The attention was ramped up to a different level, both in Australia and the UK. Her team-mates wanted to make her feel more comfortable, offering her a separate changing room. She batted away their courtesy. She wanted to muck in.

That first Saturday of the two-day game, she put a lot of pressure on herself and overthought: about the quickness of the bowlers, the bigger ball, focusing on staying lower, adopting better positions on the rise. She even wore keeping pads. It was then that she was reminded by a friend that she was there for a reason. "Think about what you did to get here".

The next day, the pads were left in the kit bag. She went back to being that Sarah Taylor. "Sometimes, you just need to stay in the moment," she reflects.

In 2013, a quote from an interview with the Guardian was taken out of context, stretched and whacked on every pillar. There was a chance, through discussions instigated by Taylor's former England coach Mark Lane, that she would keep for the Sussex men's 2nd XI if they needed a wicketkeeper. The story ran and ran. Taylor couldn't understand what was such a big deal. She turned her phone off but by then it was too late. The damage had been done. Suddenly, the World Cup was upon her and with it came three ducks in a row. In her fourth innings, she was dropped on nought and went on to score 88.

Now, speaking to ESPNcricinfo in the foyer of a plush Delhi hotel, on the eve of a World T20 semi-final, she can be at ease with the choices she has made that have put her in vulnerable situations. And she talks about them in the manner that should encourage us all.

"There are periods in anyone's career, in any walk of life, where you are always striving to not just better yourself, but to advance and push things. That's been one thing I've always tried to do: to be a little bit of a troublemaker."

"There are times when you're just going through life and you've been in the same environments all your life. But, actually putting yourself in a situation where you've got absolutely no idea what's going to happen. Putting yourself miles away from your comfort zone as possible and seeing how you react. How you dealt with things. That can do amazing things for you. Especially when you deal with them badly."

Unlike most players now who might come through a university MCC Universities programme - most notably Loughborough - Taylor skipped that step altogether. Touring life began for her at 17. She missed out on student life: that trial-and-error period when you become the person you are through making the sorts of mistakes the rest of the world judge you for. But university offers a veil that keeps out most of the real-world light.

For Taylor, she was doing this all while playing international cricket. She was pushing the limits and, occasionally, screwing up in the process. But she felt exposed while doing so.

Aged 21, she decided she wanted away from the game and away from home. The year before, 2009, England had the World Cup, World T20 and retained the Ashes. But Taylor wasn't happy - "professionally" or personally. Moreover, she was starting to annoy her team-mates because of her inability to deal with disappointment. It wasn't that she would mope. Quite the opposite: win or lose, she'd be bouncing around the changing rooms, in the face of her team-mates. Sensing their uneasiness, she decided to pack her bags.

"Putting yourself miles away from your comfort zone as possible and seeing how you react. How you dealt with things. That can do amazing things for you. Especially when you deal with them badly." Sarah Taylor on learning from vulnerable situations

She travelled to New Zealand, with no guarantee that she would return to cricket. That was crucial - she was keen to establish that this was a clean break. Yet the day after she landed, New Zealand state team Canterbury asked if she was available. "You've got to be joking!" came the reply. Two months later, she started to miss the game. Wellington then had an injury and Taylor's phone buzzed again. One game turned into 11. English cricket had her back.

"I had to go away and make some mistakes," she says. "The truth is I never had the chance to be me.

"But you have to screw up and do something stupid to either push the boundaries or, well really screw up and learn from it."

She reads about her screw-ups, too. Reading a press is, she admits, a big part of her life as a cricketer. In fact, she seeks out the criticisms, taking a keen interest in other people's views on the form of her or her team-mates. She believes it helps her reflect better on her game. Only last year, when women's cricket in England came under a barrage after a disappointing Ashes campaign, did she avoid the papers and shy away from the mentions of her Twitter page? "I'm very proud and if I read something that's bad then I'll try and be quite rational about it." Eventually, she looked at her mentions. It hurt - a lot - but she felt stronger for stomaching the abuse.

The crux of it all is self-improvement. Taylor wants to be a better player. The very best. She wants to be the one at the forefront of the evolving game while acknowledging that she has to adapt to it. Despite the hands, the eyes and the freakish reflexes, it was only last winter that Taylor decided to add the reverse sweep to her armoury. Now it's her tell - when she nails it, it's on.

Things haven't quite been "on" this World T20. She left the group stages with an average of 7 and a highest score of 16. "I feel like I've been smoking them at fielders!" Her dismissals have been noticeable for the celebrations - bowlers running down the pitch to remind her she was out and point her in the direction of the changing rooms. She doesn't mind, though.

"I do get a few send-offs, don't I? Someone gave me a good piece of advice years ago: if someone is giving you a send-off, you're probably doing something right. I don't really give any out." Really? "OK, maybe a couple."

Taylor came into the series on a run that she reckons was unlike one she'd ever had before: scores of 74*, 66, 60 against South Africa. Actually, she's had similar patches of form throughout her T20 career.

Consistency is important to her and is the next challenge. At the same time, batting at No. 3 in a line-up that bats deep and has two openers - Charlotte Edwards and Tammy Beaumont - who go at every ball in the Powerplay, she admits that she needs to "go hard or go home". Australia tomorrow will be looking to ensure it's home.

"They're like Frenemies," says Taylor of their semi-final opponents. The two groups of players are friends off the field. Many have shared dressing rooms, both in the Women's Big Bash League and various other forms of club cricket. Australia have bested England in the last two finals, but the recent T20 record is in England's favour.

As for Taylor, she has often been the difference between the two sides. In T20I wins, Taylor averages 35. In defeats, that drops to 12. England's record with her in their team is 10 wins out of 16. Like the group stages, hers will be the wicket that sends the opposition wild.

Personally, she feels like she has nothing to lose and England are aware that no one is giving them a shot against an Australia team considered now to be the vanguard of the women's game. To Taylor, that sounds like a challenge.