Sarah Taylor, who announced an indefinite break from the game in May this year owing to anxiety-related issues, was awarded a central contract by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday (December 16).
Taylor, the 27-year-old wicketkeeper-batter, was handed the two-year contract, but there was no official word on when or whether she would make a comeback for England Women.
Alex Hartley and Beth Langston, the bowlers, made the grade too, with the latter the only one of the 18 contracted players bracketed under the new ‘rookie’ category.
Rebecca Grundy, the 26-year-old left-arm spinner, was one of three players omitted from the 2015 list – the other two were Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway, both of whom retired this year.
ECB also announced a pay hike, specifics of which were not made public. “In order to ensure that professional cricket continues to be an attractive career option for talented female athletes, it’s important that we continue to properly invest in our players,” said Clare Connor, ECB director of women’s cricket.
“The pay increase and introduction of two-year contracts will give our players greater financial security and ensure they can be fully focused on the challenges that lie ahead.”
Although Taylor’s return to the game was not guaranteed, the contract entitled her to a salary, training facilities, coaching and medical support.
I haven't been able to set foot into a shopping mall since April. Yesterday I kicked anxietys ass. Here's proof it does get better… pic.twitter.com/RUiGLIWXkw
— Sarah Taylor (@Sarah_Taylor30) December 7, 2016
Taylor, on December 7, announced on social media that she was coping with anxiety better than before, and even made her first visit to a shopping mall since April. If she did come back, Taylor, who became the first woman to play men’s grade cricket in Australia and is widely regarded as one of the finest batters in the women’s game, will bolster England’s chances in the 2017 World Cup.
“Sarah is doing really well with her return to cricket plan after taking some time away from the game for health reasons,” said Mark Robinson, the England coach. “Her aim has always been to be back playing and available for selection for the World Cup next summer, and we’ll continue to offer her the support she needs to achieve that goal.”
Full list: Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Georgia Elwiss, Natasha Farrant, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones, Heather Knight, Beth Langston, Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Lauren Winfield, Fran Wilson, Danielle Wyatt.