Sarah Taylor: Steffi Graf was my idol

Sarah Taylor, the first woman to play grade cricket in Australia, speaks to Sportstar about the moments she spent with the male cricketers, her sporting idols and much more.

Sarah Taylor... "Since the 2014 World T20, a lot has changed in women’s cricket."   -  K. Pichumani

Sarah Taylor of England made history last year when she became the first woman to play grade cricket in Australian men’s league for Northern District. Her feat attracted the kind of media attention that even she did not expect.

Talking of how she got the opportunity, Sarah said: “I said I wanted to play men’s cricket. There was a message sent to all the clubs. I was going to play for the men’s team (Northern Districts), but it was a case of at what level I was going to play.

“In all honesty, when the first time they said you want to play A Grade, a tough grade, I went ‘no’.”

Sarah shared some of the moments she spent with the male cricketers.

“There was moment in the dressing room, when a friend of mine, who convinced me to play, made a joke and I made a joke back and everyone around was like ‘Okay, we don’t have to tip-toe around’.”

Talking of the difference between men’s and women’s dressing rooms, Sarah said: “There’s a lot of difference. It smells little bit different. Won’t say much more than that (laughs). The guys were brilliant and they were quite protective of me.

“I remember meeting the captain and manager and they asked me whether I would like my own changing room. I was like ‘no’. Then they said it would be the girl’s changing room; it wouldn’t be girls, it would be a girl changing and that would be just me. I want to muck in with the lads and they were like ‘Yeah, just come in’.”

Since the 2014 World T20, a lot has changed in women’s cricket. Australia or England don’t dominate the scene anymore. Teams like India, South Africa and West Indies have grown stronger over time.

When asked which team would have the upper hand in the World Twenty20, Sarah said: “The team that adapts quickly is going to win.”

Sarah’s anecdote from the previous World T20 events:

One year, I was at breakfast, Graeme Smith was on my left and Jacques Kallis on my right. I didn’t really know what to do. Their shoulders were like out here (points to her face). I was honestly nervous to say anything.

Her sporting idols:

I am a huge (Kumar) Sangakkara fan. When I was a kid, Graham Thorpe. I enjoyed his grit and determination. I am a fan of Brendon McCullum, as a person and a cricketer. I was a huge tennis fan back in those days... Steffi Graf was my idol. She was up there, like a shrine.

Her most memorable moment:

The Ashes win in 2013.

Her worst moment:

The World T20 loss for the second time.

One bad habit she would like to get rid of:

Biting my nails.

Her dinner date:

The Queen.

Her favourite holiday destination:

Barbados.