Claire Taylor MBE, cricketer

Claire Taylor. Copyright: Christopher Lee

The England World Cup winning batsman became the first woman to be named as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 2009, heralding a new era for the women's game.

Raise Your Game: Why cricket?

Claire Taylor: I started playing cricket at the age of 10 in my junior school. I played with the boys, as classes were small and all children played all sports, irrelevant of gender. I played for my school in the under 11 and under 13 sides, joined the local women's club and started going to junior county practice. By the age of 16 I had been selected to play for the Junior England team and I continued to play at senior levels throughout university.

Profile

Name:
Samantha Claire Taylor

Born:
25 September 1975

From:
Amersham, England

Game:
Cricket

Batting style:
Right-hand bat

Fielding position:
Wicketkeeper

Teams:
England Women, Berkshire Women, Thames Valley Women

Test debut:
England women v India women, Shenley, July 15 1999

Achievements:

  • Appointed MBE (2010)
  • Named Women's Cricketer of the Year (2009)
  • Winners of the Women's ICC World Cup (2009)
  • Winners of the Women's ICC World Twenty20 (2009).
  • The first woman to be named as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year (2009).
  • Claire made the highest individual score at Lord's when she hit 156 not out off 151 balls against India in the 2006 NatWest Series.

RYG: How do you keep yourself motivated?

CT: I concentrate on the smaller things. The motivation comes through striking the ball well, being able to control an innings and being able to bat. So rather than being motivated by the benefits that come from being known in cricket, I am motivated more by playing well and that's what keeps me going.

RYG: You became disillusioned with the game when England were knocked out of the World Cup in 2005, and you sought advice from sports psychologists. How did they help?

CT: We talked about my dependence on cricket for self-esteem. When the cricket was going really well, I was really happy and everything would be great, but when the cricket was going really badly, I became unhappy and I found it really difficult to motivate myself.

I needed to find a better balance in my life because life isn't just about cricket. They suggested finding a job, to take up hobbies that I enjoyed, and to socialise with people that were not cricket people, so that I had a variety of things happening in my life. Then if you get a bad run in cricket or you get injured, you have other things in your life that can keep you motivated and interested. This was really great advice.

RYG: You have stated in previous interviews that 'success breeds success.' Can you explain this in more detail?

CT: Once you get on a winning streak the whole team and the people around you get more confident and you become more aware of what you are capable of. Everybody starts to play better and people stand up and have match winning performances. You get used to winning, and you get used to the idea that given a game situation you can win a game from anywhere. You become tougher and you become tougher as a squad.

Success really does breed success and the more successful we are as a squad, the more people will get interested in women's cricket and hopefully the more girls and women will start playing.

RYG: What skills can you learn from cricket?

Claire Taylor World Cup win 2009. Copyright: Christopher Lee.CT: An important aspect of cricket is respect and humility for the game. You respect all the players on your team, the opposition, the umpires and scorers, etc. Humility is realising that you can be brilliant one day, scoring over 100 runs, and then the very next day you might not score any.

Cricket gives you individual responsibility within a team environment. You get your turn with batting and you have to go out and score runs for the team. That's your job, that's your role. It teaches you great discipline that you can apply in other areas of your life.

RYG: What has cricket given you?

CT: It's given me the opportunity to meet some really brilliant people, players and coaches, psychologists and support staff. It's given me the opportunity to travel around the world and spend winters away in New Zealand, where I lived with a family for three years. It's also given me opportunities to express myself and to achieve goals.

Did you know?

The Wisden Almanack is published annually in the United Kingdom and is considered the world's most famous sports reference book.

The Five Cricketers of the Year is a tradition that dates back to 1889, making this the oldest individual award in cricket.

RYG: You have just become the first woman to be named one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year. How does that feel?

CT: It is an amazing honour to be selected for this historic list, especially when I think about some of the women that have played cricket for England and have influenced the game.

RYG: How disciplined is your training?

CT: I have just written a training schedule for the next 150 days! Currently there is the build-up for the Women's World Twenty20 in June 2009, there's The Ashes series and the one day series against Australia all the way up to the end of summer.

In the summer I will have two cricket games a week and there will be two training sessions a week, which involves sprint based work and fielding drills. This is supplemented by two gym sessions a week, working on strength and power, as well as bike and running sessions. I train for two to three hours a day to fit all this in.

RYG: You combine your cricketing career with a management consultancy role based at Reading University. How do you effectively manage your time?

CT: I have a very good diary and I have good long-term planning. I will sit down six months before the start of the year and work out my touring commitments for the entire year. I have almost got an 18 month planning horizon so that I can tell work if I am going to be away touring for 20 weeks of the year. There needs to be a really careful balance so that I can make sure that I am earning enough money.

RYG: Your next test will be the Women's World Twenty20 which takes place on home soil in June 2009 alongside the men's competition for the first time. How does that make you feel?

CT: It's going to be really exciting and it's an amazing stage for us. We need to make sure that we get through the semi-finals and hopefully the final. We need to play some really good cricket so that when we get our chance to be on that stage in front of tens of thousands of people, we can gain some more fans and hopefully get more women interested in the sport.

RYG: What advice would you give to young people wanting to be the next Claire Taylor?

CT: Work hard and make sure that you are enjoying what you are doing both in training and match days. Education is really important and I'd say to every young person that there is plenty of time. You may think that you want it when you are 17-years-old, but actually there is plenty of time to finish school and perhaps go to university. Don't pick too soon.


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