Adelaide: England wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor will make history tomorrow when she becomes the first woman to play in a men's A-grade cricket match in Australia. Taylor will appear for the Northern Districts club against Port Adelaide on the opening day of a two-day match in South Australia's elite men's competition.
No woman has played in the competition since it began in 1987 and it is believed none has done so in a two-day match in a men's A-grade tournament in any other state.
Former Australia fast bowler Cathryn Fitzpatrick played one Twenty20 match for the Dandenong club in Victoria in 2006-07.
Taylor, who is the current ICC Women's International One-Day Cricketer of the Year, said she is "nervous and excited" about her debut.
"I've always wanted to push myself and check where I'm at in terms of my cricket," Taylor said. "It's going to take a bit for me to get used to the extra pace and bounce but I want to challenge myself and test where my cricket is at, to see if I can cope at that level. If I can't I can't and if I can, I can, but it will be a good challenge.
"If I get any sledging (verbal abuse), it's a bit of respect because they're treating me like one of the other players."
Taylor, who has played eight tests, 98 one-day internationals and 73 Twenty20 matches for England will keep wicket and bat at No. 8 in the Northern Districts' order. It's not the first time Taylor has played beside men: two years ago shed played for Walmley in the Birmingham and District Premier League in England.
Taylor is in Australia to play for the South Australia Scorpions in the Women's National Cricket League, scoring 101 in the first match of the season last weekend. She has also signed to play for the Adelaide Strikers in Australia's inaugural women's Big Bash Twenty20 League.
"I'm just really happy with my glove-work through the England summer as a whole, so hopefully I can take that form into the men's game," Taylor said.
Northern Districts cricket director Sean Watt said Taylor's selection had been endorsed by South Australia state talent manager Tim Nielsen. Cricket Australia General Manager Team Performance Pat Howard said Taylor's selection might open
the way for other women players.
"As the women's game becomes increasingly professional there are more opportunities than ever before for elite female players," Howard said.
"Sarah's selection for the Northern District Cricket Club's first XI is a demonstration that cricket is a sport for all."