Sarah Taylor enters preserve of the Australian male
Sarah Taylor, the England women's wicket-keeper batsman, has broken into what was previously a jealously-guarded male preserve by becoming the first woman to play Australian first grade cricket
Sarah Taylor, the England women's wicket-keeper batsman, has broken into what was previously a jealously-guarded male preserve by becoming the first woman to play Australian first grade cricket. She gatecrashed what reputedly has been one of the last bastions of the macho Australian male by making her debut for Northern Districts in the South Australian Premier Competition on Saturday.
Not all statisticians seem entirely happy to let a Pom to take the accolade, with references also made to a T20 match in Victoria once played by Cathryn Fitzpatrick, who stepped down as coach of the Australian women's team in May, but Taylor's achievement in being selected for a two-day game will gain universal recognition.
SACA Premier Cricket is a two-day competition and represents the highest level of cricket played in South Australia outside first-class cricket.
Taylor took on keeping duties and was scheduled to bat at No 8 for Northern Districts - aka the Jets - in the first match of the 2015-2016 season against Port Adelaide Magpies at the Salisbury Oval, alongside players such as South Australia and Leicestershire's Mark Cosgrove and the former Hampshire batsman Joe Gatting - nephew of ex-England captain Mike Gatting.
She joined a list of players that includes former Australian Test cricketers Darren Lehman and Ryan Harris to have represented Northern Districts CC in this competition.
Taylor went to Brighton College, the same school as the former England wicketkeeper, Matt Prior, who said her catching talents were immediately apparent. She is particularly talented standing up to the stumps and has been advocated at times as worthy of a match in English county cricket. Mike Selvey, cricket correspondent of The Guardian has championed her as unique: the only women's cricketer he has ever seen with all the attributes to play at first-class level.
"I'm really excited about this opportunity - it's completely unexpected and offers another new challenge and environment for me to test my skills against some very strong cricketers. I had no idea that I would be the first woman to play at this level in Australia, but I am sure that I won't be the last. I have grown up playing boys cricket at Brighton College and more recently in the ECB men's premier league for Walmley CC, so I am used to playing with the guys."
Taylor will also feature in the Women's Big Bash for Adelaide Strikers and is also currently playing 50-over state cricket for the Breezair SA Scorpions in the Women's National Cricket League.
The sight of women playing in what was traditionally men-only cricket has gradually become more common in England over the past 20 years. Earlier this year England women's fast bowler Kate Cross became the first woman to play in the Central Lancashire League, one of the country's most reputable and traditional leagues.