Dear Sarah Taylor,
I remember the day; I came to know about the ‘news’. Sarah Taylor has taken a break from cricket, due to an anxiety issue, the article stated. A few days ago, ‘Lotte has taken retirement from international cricket after the 2016 World Cup and the coach was thinking to rebuild the team. So, news came as an absolute shocker. Why someone, who is so good with her job suffering from anxiety and panic issue? I failed to understand. Then I started to read the articles and came to know more about them. I talked with one of my professors, specialized in sports psychology and she also helped me to understand the theoretical aspects of that.
The records that you made, the runs you have scored are no doubt important. 2nd highest scorer in T-20 and 3rd highest scorer in ODI for England, highest scalps behind the wicket in Women’s cricket- all these are there in the record books. Your forced people to fall in love with your lighting fast stumpings, your catches, your swift movements behind the stump and the catch that removed Aussie skipper Jodie Fields in 2013. You made the unorthodox shots, the on drives, look so easy. You became a household name and an inspiration for young cricketers around the world.
Records have been made and broken several times in the history of cricket. Maybe some of the records that you have made will be broken someday, maybe not. But it’s not only the records you, but you will also be remembered for. Frank Worrell once wrote that statistics don’t tell us in which situation the score was made. There are things more than cricket which makes you very special, at least to me.
We live in a time when to us success means everything to us. We run in a rat race where we are not ready to accept anything but claiming the first place. At any cost. As they said when we keep on winning and winning and winning, the mistakes within us are often overlooked. And those things, those failures become much prominent, when we taste our first defeat. Devasted, unable to stand up, unable to look at into our eyes in the mirror we often decided to quit.
You too thought of that. You have suffered from anxiety issue, depression. You even tried to fight it out alone, without giving a hint to your mates. You failed to match the expectations of your self and even decided to give up. The decision to quit cricket make things a bit worse. You saw the highest peak in your career and the lowest too. There were times when the ICC Player of The Year decided to hang up the boots as you were not able to move out of bed due to your anxiety and depression.
And then, instead of flying away, you decided to keep ongoing. You build the momentum step by step until you make a comeback in the 2017 World Cup. Your 147 against South Africa remains as the apostle of grit, determination and resilience. You have made centuries before and after that innings, but to me, that remains the best. That will be closely followed by your 73 while playing for Surrey Stars in 2019.
You have shared a picture of your books and there is a book on Sir Don Bradman who once said that cricket work as a lighthouse , guiding one’s footstep. To me, to many of us, you, Sarah Taylor is a lighthouse who unashamedly spoken about her vulnerability. Not only that like a true sportsperson you tried to overcome that challenge. We all have our share of odds and difficulties. Most of the time things don’t go in our way, as we have planned.
In those times when many of us, devasted, exhausted, think of running away from our life or quitting the job we have, your journey works as an inspiration. You taught us to speak about mental health issues and you taught us that there is nothing wrong in saying, “Yes. I am not well.” You taught us how to carry on, even when the future is a blur or obscure.
When you took retirement you not only left the records and runs behind you but a legacy. In my country, India, cricket is often regarded as religion and cricketers are often equated with God. And amongst those Gods, you reminded us that cricketers are a human being too with all its human qualities they can grace the cricket world.
I would like to end this letter quoting some of the lines from J.H. Fingleton’s ‘Cricket Farewell’. He wrote,
“Rich characters all of them, fading from the scene, but their memories will remain. There is a poignancy in thinking we will see them no more, poignancy and regret .”
Did you turned back and looked at the pitch, one last long and lingering look, when you are coming back from the ground?
I don’t know.
Happy Birthday, Sarah. Many Many Happy Returns of the day and thank you for everything.
A Fan back in India.