Sarah Taylor returns to professional cricket after two years in thrilling Rachael Heyhoe Flint clash

Sarah Taylor’s return to professional cricket ended in a thrilling Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy victory as Northern Diamonds chased 251 to beat South East Stars by three wickets at Emerald Headingley.

The meeting of the two title hopefuls saw England legend Taylor keep tidily after nearly two years in retirement before making two off five balls.


Kirstie White’s 73 off 90 underpinned the Stars’ 250-6 before the Diamonds recovered from 70-5 thanks largely to 75 off 106 for Sterre Kalis.

The Netherlands international, Jenny Gunn and late hero Beth Langston all hit fifties to secure a second win in four games with only four balls to spare. Langston hit the winning runs and finished 59 not out off 53.

Diamonds got home despite dropping three catches of varying difficulty in good batting conditions.

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Taylor was responsible for the first in the second over of the match when Alice Davidson-Richards edged Phoebe Graham behind on one.

Taylor, a replacement signing for England’s Lauren Winfield-Hill and injured Bess Heath, went to her right one-handed and could only parry a chance which would have been classed as a stunner.

Speaking after the match, Taylor said: “I felt rusty, but it was nice to dust the cobwebs off, the legs, the back and the hands.

“For a first proper game of cricket, keeping wise, after a two-year break, I’m pretty happy with that. It was good fun.

“I had the catch! I had it in my webbing and it came out only when I hit the deck. It flew, but I did the hard work. It was just that my elbow hit the ground, and I was gutted.”

The margin of victory at Taunton was far more emphatic as Southern Vipers cruised to an eight-wicket win over Western Storm with 91 balls remaining.

  • Western Storm vs Southern Vipers scorecard

Set 177 to win, Vipers got home in 34.5 overs as Georgia Adams (77) put on 57 for the first wicket with Danni Wyatt (28) before an unbeaten 57 from Maia Bouchier completed the job.

Lightning had 58 balls left in the bank as they eased to a five-wicket win over Sunrisers, whose 206-9 was built around fifties from Naomi Dattani (65) and Kelly Castle (52). Teresa Graves was the pick of the attack with 4-39.

  • Sunrisers vs Lightning scorecard

In reply, opener Michaela Kirk hit 57 off 66 balls and Abigail Freeborn weighed in with 44 to see Lightning home in 40.2 overs.

Captain Eve Jones ended up on the wrong end of a two-wicket defeat despite hitting an unbeaten hundred as her Central Sparks team went down to Thunder by two wickets.

  • Central Sparks vs Thunder scorecard

Jones struck 14 fours and a six in her 100no, which accounted for almost half of her side’s 203 all out, only for Thunder to post 205-8 off 48 overs with Emma Lamb (39), Georgia Boyce (26), Laura Jackson (30) and Laura Marshall (32) making solid contributions.

Watch day one of the Test between England Women and India Women live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am on Wednesday.

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