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Sarah Taylor says anxiety resurfaced with her historic appointment to Sussex’s coaching set-up

Sarah Taylor, who won over 200 caps for England, will share her wealth of experience – on and off the pitch – with Sussex’s players at all levels in part-time capacity that will allow her to continue coaching schoolchildren; she talks to Sky Sports about handling reactions to the news

Former England wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor says she will strive to be the best version of herself after “little demons” of anxiety resurfaced with her historic appointment to Sussex’s coaching set-up.

Taylor is understood to be the first female coach appointed in men’s cricket in the UK after accepting an offer from Sussex to work with the club’s wicketkeepers.

The 31-year-old retired from international cricket in 2019 after struggling with her mental health; even so, she still amassed 226 England caps, scoring over 7,000 international runs and effecting 227 wicketkeeping dismissals – the most in the history of women’s international cricket.

Speaking to Sky Sports News‘ Rebecca Williams, Taylor revealed that a few negative comments in response to the announcement of her trailblazing new position had stirred up fresh anxiety.

Her comments come after rugby reporter Sonja McLaughlan and football pundit Karen Carney both suffered extreme online abuse in the course of doing their jobs recently.

“The news came out and 99 per cent of it was extremely positive, and people saying I’d earned the right to be there; I was there on merit and I do feel like that personally,” said Taylor.

“It takes some horrible comments to then get you back in your shell and you kind of think, ‘do I? Maybe is it a gender thing?’ It’s absolutely not – I know 100 per cent deep down it’s not at all.

“But all of a sudden, those little demons start to creep back in again and as soon as I got to Hove and saw the guys, I knew that I was part of the family.

“So yes, I do [get lows]; I want to be the best I can possibly be. I want to make sure that I’m the best coach for Brownie [wicketkeeper Ben Brown] and the guys and the best person around the group.

“Although I think that can bring some negativity, I think actually that’s the best version of me and I should keep striving for that always.”

Taylor says she is looking forward to sharing her wealth of experience with players throughout the Sussex set-up, from Brown and Phil Salt, through the levels, and feels that due to her own personal experiences she can also be a sounding board for others experiencing problems.

“I’ve obviously spent a lot of hours on the field ‘keeping,” she said. “I look back with pride at the career that I had and I learned a lot and I learned a lot about myself as a person as well and I have obviously done that for the past few years.

“I feel like I’ve got a lot to offer in terms of the ‘keeping things; I like to keep things very simple but have fun at the same time. I want to instill that in a lot of the ‘keepers.

“I want to bring personalities and our own traits to the forefront as well; guys do find it a little bit harder to open up. Hopefully, I can help in that aspect as well.”

In addition to working for Sussex, Taylor will continue working as Sports Development and Life Skills Coach at Bede’s school in Eastbourne – a position she says has helped her to rebuild her confidence and character.

She hopes that the ECB’s decision to swell the number of full-time domestic contracts for women to 41 will not only help bolster the women’s game but – together with the governing body’s ‘Inspiring Generations’ strategy for 2020-2024 – will bring about a change of emphasis in the state school system.

“Here [at Bede’s], it’s been very different. I can go from doing ‘keeping coaching with an 18-year-old boy to all of a sudden being on a football pitch with 10-year-olds when it’s raining, trying to teach them how to pass a ball to each other.

“It’s very, very different but absolutely everything that I needed when I finished playing. I needed a break from that intensity of perfection – I think that’s probably what I was chasing all the time.

“So to then start to worry about other people has been really refreshing and really healthy for me to go through.

“The girls’ cricket here is of an exceptional standard and it was one of the reasons that I wanted to come here, to keep pushing the women’s game.

“I think cricket should go more regularly into the state system. It’s a paid career now – if you want to keep going in domestic cricket, there are opportunities there and the money is there.

“I do think it should be pushed and I hope that the investment into the girls’ game at schooling level is pushed.”

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