The remarkable rise of a cricketing talent from Eastbourne – and how other girls could follow her

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Eastbourne cricketer Mary Taylor has signed her first professional contract with the Southern Vipers for the 2024 season.

The 19-year-old, who has played at Eastbourne Cricket Club since she was five for and Sussex’s women’s first XI since 2021, made her Vipers debut in 2022.

She was promoted to the first team squad from the Vipers academy this year and played 17 Vipers games in the Rachel Heyhoe Flint and Charlotte Edwards cup competitions, taking 14 wickets and contributing to the Vipers winning both competitions.

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That won her a place in Charlotte Edwards’ Southern Brave squad for The Hundred, in which she made debut at Trent Bridge versus Trent Rockets taking 3-18 off 20 balls and helping Brave win the competition.

Mary Taylor elebrates a wicket with Southern Brave wicket keeper Rhianna Southby during The Hundred match between Trent Rockets and Southern Brave at Trent Bridge (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)Mary Taylor elebrates a wicket with Southern Brave wicket keeper Rhianna Southby during The Hundred match between Trent Rockets and Southern Brave at Trent Bridge (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Mary Taylor elebrates a wicket with Southern Brave wicket keeper Rhianna Southby during The Hundred match between Trent Rockets and Southern Brave at Trent Bridge (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

In her County season, she scored 82 not out in the semi-final of the Women’s T20 v Berkshire at Hove which saw Sussex through to the final, in which they berat Hants.

Her county performances earned her Sussex’s T20 Player of the Year award and she scooped Eastbourne’s David Lockyer Award for Outstanding Performance.

Taylor started playing cricket in the back garden with her brother, sister and grandad. She joined Eastbourne CC with twin sister Millie in 2009.

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Paul Hacker, chairman of Eastbourne CC’s women’s and girls’ section, said: “At the time the younger girls played softball, competitions like the Lady Taverners, run by the late Kevin Key, whose love for the game and enthusiasm for developing girls’ cricket was fundamental to so many young female players.

Mary Taylor has helped the Southern Vipers to silverware too | Contributed photoMary Taylor has helped the Southern Vipers to silverware too | Contributed photo
Mary Taylor has helped the Southern Vipers to silverware too | Contributed photo

“There was a small group of girls who never stopped for breath, all they wanted to do was play! Mary and Millie were very much part of that group.”

Mary is an all-rounder and continues to work with coach Matt Cooke of Skillz Sports Academy.

She went to St. Andrew’s Prep and Bede’s Senior School where she was coached by Neil and Petch Lenham.

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She said: “I’ve always loved the game and always wanted a professional career in cricket. I’ve been very lucky from the start to have a supportive family and club, as well as fantastic coaches throughout my development, Matt, Neil, and Petch, Alexia Walker and Charlotte Burton from Sussex, and Ian Cox at Southern Vipers Academy as well as everyone at Eastbourne CC, especially Kev Key and Paul Hacker.

"As a new professional, I have a new set of coaches under Lottie Edwards, the head coach, it’s an amazing feeling and I’m so grateful that so many people believed in me.”

Paul Taylor, Mary’s dad and junior secretary of Eastbourne CC, said “I’m very proud of Mary. She has worked really hard to get where she is. From the club perspective we pride ourselves on developing cricketers and providing a pathway to higher level cricket and potentially paid cricket for boys and girls.

“Mary is part of a long history of successful cricketers who have grown up and played at Eastbourne Cricket Club. Of course, that does mean some of our cricketers move on to professional careers but we would always prioritise their development over a win-at-all-costs culture, that is what makes Eastbourne CC a great place for emerging cricketers as well as beginners.”

Eastbourne Cricket Club welcome new and returning cricketers, men and women, boys and girls. For more information email: [email protected]

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