The Hundred: Sarah Taylor joins Welsh Fire for inaugural competition

Former England wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor is set to play professional cricket for the first time since 2019 after joining Welsh Fire for the new Hundred competition.

The 31-year-old scored 6,533 international runs for England and effected 232 dismissals.

She retired from international cricket because of anxiety but has since said she would "maybe" make a return.

"The temptation to be part of it was too great to resist," Taylor said.

Taylor said that her anxiety "grew into" agoraphobia and she still manages the illness on a day-to-day basis.

"I am still going through my demons now but it is definitely better than it was," she told BBC 5 Live Breakfast.

"The kind of pressure to play cricket for a career was actually really tough for me.

"But now I am a lot happier in myself and I can take on a lot more challenges, and Welsh Fire is one of those."

Taylor, widely regarded as one of the best wicketkeepers of all time, won two 50-over World Cups and one T20 World Cup during her 13-year international career.

Only Charlotte Edwards has scored more international runs for England than Taylor, who is the 10th all-time leading female run-scorer in one-day and Twenty20 cricket.

She coaches at a school in Eastbourne and recently joined her county club Sussex as a wicketkeeping coach.

She was asked by Welsh Fire to play for them in 2020 but she turned it down, and the tournament was ultimately postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I wasn't in a good place, so I kind of dismissed it quite quickly but I did say think of me next year," she added.

"Luckily they asked me again and I thought it is the first year of it, I get to play with the best in the world - it's a no-brainer."

I'm still going through my demons - Sarah Taylor

Taylor will join multiple World Cup-winning captain Meg Lanning at Welsh Fire, who are led by Australia coach Matthew Mott.

"Sarah is one of the best cricketers England has ever produced," Mott said.

"It goes without saying she would improve any side and we are delighted she's signed with us."

Welsh Fire have also signed Australia leg-spinner Georgia Wareham, after international team-mate Jess Jonassen withdrew due to personal circumstances.

Wareham, 21, has taken 33 wickets at 13.78 in 32 T20s for Australia.

The new 100-ball competition runs from 21 July to 21 August, with Welsh Fire facing Southern Brave in their opening match on 27 July.

The opening women's Hundred match between Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals will be live on the BBC on 21 July.

Analysis

Manchester Originals spinner Alex Hartley, who won the World Cup with Taylor in 2017

It is so good to have Sarah back. When she retired, it was a bit of a shock, but she had a bit of time out and got herself into a good place.

People have said she is the world's best keeper, male or female, and you forget that all these young players will have watched Sarah. They will be able to learn from her; they have looked up to her and now they will be playing cricket with her.

I have a lot of memories with Sarah. On tour, we did a lot of movie nights and became really good friends. She's a hilarious person and I'm looking forward to spending a bit more time with her.

She is a true advocate for mental health - she has helped Sussex develop resourcesexternal-link to support the community - and it is nice to have someone so open about it.

I learnt from Sarah, when I was going through my struggles, that talking and having people around you helps.

She also, apparently, has only ever hit one six in domestic cricket, and it's against me, so I can't wait for that...

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