Former England captain and record run-scorer pays tribute to latest Hall of Fame inductee.
ICC Hall of Fame inductee Claire Taylor was “years ahead of her time” according to former England captain Charlotte Edwards.
There was little Taylor didn’t achieve in a stellar international career spanning from 1998 to 2011 which saw her win the Women’s World Cup and World T20, become the No.1 batsman in the world and be the first female player to be named one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year.
And as the ICC recognised her contribution by inducting her into its prestigious Hall of Fame on Sunday, her long-time teammate and captain paid tribute to the trailblazing dedication that set Taylor apart.
“She got the most out of her ability, was very single-minded about what she wanted to achieve and she didn’t leave a stone unturned in terms of her preparation,” Edwards said. “I feel very lucky to have played with her and learnt a lot from the way she went about preparing for her cricket and the mental strength she showed when she played.”
Taylor, having established herself in the England team, gave up a well-paid graduate job and moved back in with her parents in order to focus on cricket – a pursuit that at the time offered no income.
“We got knocked out of a World Cup in 2000 and it was a lightbulb moment for her,” Edwards said. “I think she realised that if she wanted to fulfil her potential and for England to get better she needed to put more time into her cricket.
"She had a very good job, but Tails wanted to be the very best and she knew she wasn’t giving herself the best chance of being the best by working, so she just committed 100 per cent to her cricket. Back then there was no money in the game whatsoever and I admired her so much for what she did. It paid dividends because of the way she performed over the next five or six years when she was at the top of her game.
"I saw the way she prepared, her running sessions, her gym sessions. She’d go in the nets wearing so many clothes, trying to simulate situations that she felt she was going to be in in World Cup finals. People would think she was absolutely mad."
“I saw first hand because I used to go training with her down to Guildford, saw the way she prepared, her running sessions, her gym sessions. She’d go in the nets wearing so many clothes, trying to simulate situations that she felt she was going to be in in World Cup finals. People would think she was absolutely mad.
“It was really good for me and many of the younger players to see how she really did put her heart and soul into cricket and how it made a huge difference.
“She was the ultimate professional – but without being paid! And you’ve really got to admire that, because a lot of people do play sport for money and other gains but she simply wanted to be the best player in the world. And it probably cost her thousands of pounds to do that but that was her really clear objective and I would think without a shadow of a doubt she achieved it.
“She was 10 years ahead of her time in many ways. You do feel for the fact that she missed out on that professional era.”
Taylor hit a century and two half-centuries to inspire England to success at the 2009 ICC World Cup, finishing as Player of the Tournament for her 324 runs at 64.80. Later that year she won Player of the Tournament again as England added the World T20 trophy to their cabinet, Taylor hitting a 53-ball 76 to guide her side past Australia in a memorable semi-final at The Oval. As a result she was recognised among the leading cricketers of the year in the Wisden Almanack – the first woman in history to receive the accolade.
“It was nothing more than she deserved, with the year she’d had,” Edwards said. “I was so pleased she was the first person to be awarded that prestigious honour. I know she was certainly very proud of that. I was there when it was awarded and you felt like all those years of hard work… that was like her £100,000 – she’d missed out on the money but that award meant so much to her.”
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