Claire Taylor becomes first woman Wisden Cricketer of the Year

April 3rd, 2009 - 9:47 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 3 (IANS) England’s Claire Taylor has become the first woman to be named among the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year, ending 120 years of male domination in the cricketers’ bible.
The 33-year-old from Berkshire was the World Cup player of the tournament, scoring 324 runs at an average of 64 to help England win the title.

“It’s a huge honour to join this amazing list,” Taylor was quoted as saying in BBC Sport.

England seamer James Anderson, Durham captain Dale Benkenstein and South Africans Mark Boucher and Neil McKenzie are the other players to be recognised.

The historic edition of the famous Wisden Almanack is the 146th, and the coveted awards have been in existence for 120 years.

Commenting on Taylor’s inclusion, Wisden editor Scyld Berry said: “It would be a sin of omission, an act of prejudice, to exclude her from the accolade.”

“Wisden has never set any parameters of gender or nationality for the Five Cricketers, and there is no element of political correctness about this selection. Taylor has been chosen on merit, for being pre-eminent in her form of the game. The England Women have been the pride of the nation as far as cricket is concerned,” he said.

On the other featured players, Berry said: “James Anderson has been England’s most reliable pace bowler in the last year; Dale Benkenstein guided Durham to their first Championship, while Mark Boucher and Neil McKenzie were the backbone of the South African side which defeated England last summer.”

Taylor formed an integral part of an England women’s team that retained the Ashes in Australia. They went through last summer undefeated, before the run culminated with a four-wicket World Cup final triumph over New Zealand in Australia where she was named player of the tournament.

She was told of the award before Christmas and has managed to hide the momentous news from even family and team-mates.

“It was slightly weird and I tried to almost forget it myself, but you see the star in the diary,” she said.

Taylor combines her cricketing career with a management consultancy role based at Reading University.

Taylor hopes that her admission into what until today had been an exclusively male preserve will be another small step towards equality in the sport.

“This is the most media exposure I have ever had,” she said. “I hope that this can help lift the profile of the women’s game.”

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