Her return is set to bolster the ranks of Australia’s fiercest rival for next month’s Women’s World Cup, but Southern Stars captain Meg Lanning says it is “great” to see England star Sarah Taylor return to cricket.
Taylor, who is England’s third highest all-time ODI run scorer and one of the most talented players the country has produced, has not played an international match since the World T20 semi-final last March, having taken an indefinite break from the game to battle anxiety.
But after 12 months devoted to her mental health, the 28-year-old is now preparing to make her return to the highest level after being named in England’s 15-player World Cup squad.
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Her comeback match is likely to be England’s first warm-up match against Sri Lanka on June 19.
Given Taylor’s outstanding record in the game – she’s played 101 ODIs for England, scoring 3261 runs at 39.76 while also excelling behind the stumps - her return will give Australia’s bowlers something extra to think about before the Ashes rivals clash in Bristol on July 9.
"It’s great to see her back, you want to see the best players in the world playing in the big tournaments,” Lanning said.
"She is certainly one of those.
"Most squads will be at full strength, which is great.
"The quality of cricket should be good and hopefully a fair few people will come along and watch as well."
Last week, Taylor spoke for the first time since returning to the England set-up, opening up on her battle with anxiety and her journey back to the game.
"It’s been a tough 12 months, and lots has been learned in that time," Taylor told ecb.co.uk. "It’s been a rollercoaster of anxiety, from day-to-day stuff, to my return to cricket.
"To be back in time for the World Cup has been a hard journey, but very worth it so far."
Taylor, who made her international debut in 2006 aged 17, struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for several years before her decision to take a break from cricket last year.
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Her return has been a gradual process, but Taylor said she was pleased with her progression since attending a training camp with her England teammates in the United Arab Emirates last month.
"To be honest, when I took that break I didn’t look too far ahead. I couldn’t,” Taylor said.
"Literally getting out of bed was the highlight of a day, and then accepting that doing something brilliant might mean walking outside. The World Cup never even got into my head.
"Then, all of a sudden, I found myself wanting to train again, and it actually benefited my day-to-day learning and my anxiety.
"There’s still social anxiety; new places are still a struggle for me, and I still have to push through those on a day-to-day basis.
"I’m realistic that there will probably be some bumps. But if I get through it, I should look back and be completely proud of myself."
Now, she is enjoying cricket again and feels prepared to handle the pressure of a home World Cup.
"I don’t think we can shy away from the fact that in a World Cup there will be pressure,” Taylor admitted.
"Through what I’ve dealt with over the last 12 months, I feel like I’m probably mentally strong enough to deal with those pressures.
"I’m ready to face the World Cup, and the scrutiny that professional sport brings.
"Batting’s more fun now than it was back then. Once you eliminate all the things that are going on inside your head, you’re able to just purely enjoy the game.
"People are saying that I look a lot calmer now.
"Where I’m most comfortable is out in the middle: batting, wicketkeeping and being around the girls."
Women's World Cup 2017 Guide
Australia World Cup squad: Sarah Aley, Kristen Beams, Alex Blackwell (vc), Nicole Bolton, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Meg Lanning (c), Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington
Australia's World Cup schedule
View the full tournament schedule here
June 20: Australia v South Africa, Oakham
June 22: Australia v Pakistan, Leicester
June 26: Australia v West Indies, Taunton
June 29: Australia v Sri Lanka, Bristol
July 2: Australia v New Zealand, Bristol
July 5: Australia v Pakistan, Leicester
July 9: Australia v England, Bristol
July 12: Australia v India, Bristol
July 15: Australia v South Africa, Taunton
July 18: First semi-final, Bristol
July 20: Second semi-final, Derby
July 23: Final, Lord's