Sarah Taylor // Getty Images

England star opens up on anxiety battle

Sarah Taylor candid as she reveals her struggle with anxiety that's seen her take an indefinite break from the game

England star Sarah Taylor is optimistic she will return to cricket, after opening up on her battle with anxiety and the impact it had on her game.

Taylor, 27, announced last month she was taking an indefinite break from the game, ruling herself out of England's upcoming home series against Pakistan later this month.

The wicketkeeper-batter, who debuted in August 2006 and is currently ranked in the world's top 10 batters in both ODIs and T20s, revealed she had been managing the condition for the last four years.

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It was after her recent run of disappointing form, which saw her average 9.80 during England’s World T20 campaign in March, that she again sought help for the condition.

"At its worst, it's a panic attack," Taylor told BBC Sport.

"There are ways and depths in which it can hit you. It happened mainly when I was just about to bat, that expectation of wanting to score runs. 

"The nerves would hit me but it would be nerves plus something else. I was always confused as to what it was but now I know.

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"It's a genuine panic, the heart races, you feel faint. There have been times when I've had to run off into the changing rooms and been sick through sheer panic. That affected my performance and it had to be addressed.

"The biggest thing for me was the expectation that I put on myself. That triggered a lot of attacks. Putting myself in those situations was to test myself and reach that level but that in turn added to my anxiety.

"The way the game is going, this is a good time to take a break and fix myself – this is the most important thing, getting myself better."

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Taylor said she was undertaking cognitive behavioural and saidonce she felt she had settled her personal life, she would consider a return to cricket.

"My cricket has been affected massively but my personal life has been affected more so my day-to-day battles are huge.

"I am 99 per cent sure that I will play. I want to, I absolutely want to play cricket, I want to put an England shirt back on. I want to train with the girls, I miss them terribly.

"It’s a case of being realistic and knowing that I will do everything in my power to become healthy and to put myself in a position where I can play again."

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Taylor said she had drawn comfort from knowing other players had dealt with depression and anxiety, including fellow England players Jonathan Trott, Andrew Flintoff and Marcus Trescothick.

"The fact you know other people are going through the same thing and it’s OK, it’s normal, that has been the biggest insight for me. Knowing they've having support as well.

"The support I’ve got through the ECB and from (coach Mark Robinson) has been incredible. This is a journey for me but I want it to be a learning for other people that it’s OK to go through something like this but it’s not OK to suffer in silence. To have the right people around you is really important and luckily I've had that."

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It remains to be seen whether the wicketkeeper-batter will play in the inaugural England Women’s Super League in July, where she has signed on to captain Lancashire Thunder.

Taylor starred for South Australia in the Women’s National Cricket League and for the Adelaide Strikers in the Women’s Big Bash League last summer, named in the WNCL team of the tournament.

She also made history as the first woman to play in a men's two-day A grade match in Australia last October, lining up for the Northern Districts Cricket Club in their season-opener against Port Adelaide in South Australia's top men's competition.

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Taylor’s absence is a blow for England as they take on Pakistan in three ODIs and three T20s from June 20, with the team tackling life without former captain Charlotte Edwards for the first time in almost two decades.

Heather Knight has been named Edwards' replacement, with fast bowler Anya Shrubsole stepping into the role of vice-captain.

England currently sit sixth on the ICC Women's Championship table and need to climb into the top four by the end of the year to gain automatic qualification to next year’s Women’s World Cup, a tournament they will be hosting in June and July.

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