Former England Women’s wicketkeeper to work with professional squads and pathway players
Sarah Taylor, the former England Women’s wicketkeeper, will join the Sussex coaching staff, working with the county’s men’s squad, for the upcoming season.
Taylor was widely regarded as one of the best keepers in the sport before she retired in 2019 at the age of 30 following long-term struggles with anxiety. Now she is stepping into relatively unfamiliar territory as a woman coaching professional sportsmen, working with the likes of Ben Brown and Phil Salt.
“We have a really talented group of keepers at Sussex who I am looking forward to working with immensely,” Taylor said. “I want to share my experience and expertise to help them get the most out of their game. I’m a big believer in keeping things simple and perfecting the basics so that players can enjoy and express themselves with the gloves.”
Taylor’s role with the club will focus largely on wicketkeepting. She earned 226 England caps, claiming 232 dismissals. But her expertise with the bat – she also scored more than 6,500 international runs – and her experience in dealing with and speaking about mental health issues make her a valuable all-round addition to the Sussex coaching ranks.
Following her retirement, Taylor became a sports and life coach at Bede’s School in Eastbourne. She recently told ESPNcricinfo that she had not ruled out a playing comeback, having not picked up a bat since her last match, for KSL side Surrey Stars in August 2019. In January, she helped launch the Sussex Cricket Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub, an online resource set up by the club with whom she had a playing career spanning 15 years.
James Kirtley, joint Sussex head coach with Ian Salisbury, said Taylor would not only bring valuable skills to the players but to the club environment as well.
“She is hugely skilled in the world of wicketkeeping, but she will also bring so much good as a person around our group,” Kirtley said. “She adds great perspective to a situation and as a coach she provides an excellent sounding board for ideas and is a fantastic communicator. I am certain she will become a huge asset to our setup.”
It is not unheard of for a woman to coach in elite men’s sport – Amelie Mauresmo coached Andy Murray, for example – but it is still relatively rare.
The club announced Taylor’s appointment on Monday, along with that of Ashley Wright as an assistant to lead batting coach Jason Swift. Wright has previously worked with Surrey and Bangladesh Premier League side, Rajshahi Kings, and was national head coach of Guernsey for four years. Both will work with the professional squad and the Sussex Cricket Pathway, for the development of junior players, part time.
Salisbury added: “They both bring a huge amount of cricketing knowledge, skill and experience, as well as a fantastic work ethic, to the entirety of our player pathway. Equally as important, Sarah and Ash both fit our mantra of coaching the whole person, not just the cricketer very well.”
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo