We're fitter and stronger than we've ever been: Taylor

England Women may have topped the table in the ongoing tri-series that includes New Zealand and South Africa. But ahead of their double-header on Saturday, wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor believes their fitness will be key, if they have to sustain 80 overs in Taunton.

“We’re fitter and stronger than we’ve ever been,” she told BBC Sport on Friday (June 23). “It will be tough – the Kiwis are obviously strong opposition. We just have to try to look at it like a 40-over game each side.”

England, who will first face South Africa before New Zealand, kicked off their series with a record 121-run win over the former. After having posted the highest total in women’s T20Is – 250 for 3, they beat South Africa comfortably, which came just hours after New Zealand had set the record after posting 216 for 3 in their 66-run win against the same opponents.

“We wanted to get off to a good start in the series and we did, but we have the World Cup in the back of our minds. This is a nice stepping stone and a good chance to see how everyone has been progressing.”

It has also been during England’s last couple of series that Taylor has shown her prowess, not just with the bat, but also behind the wickets, which prompted Australian legend Adam Gilchrist to describe her as the “best wicketkeeper in the world” across the men’s game and women’s.

“I tweeted, no longer than a week ago, that she is the best wicketkeeper in the world at the moment – male or female,” Gilchrist had said. “She’s done some work over the years in the Big Bash in Australia and with social media now you can see these little snippets.

“It’s a pretty bold statement, because there are a lot of fine wicketkeepers around – Alyssa Healy is another from the women’s game, just so skilful with soft hands effecting these leg-side stumpings. [They] spend so much time up to the stumps with a little less pace on the ball in the women’s game [and are] so skilful, I’ve seen a lot and a couple in the internationals over the last week or two have been brilliant pieces of work.”

Reacting to which, Taylor said with laugh: “I had absolutely no idea about that!,” she laughed, in conversation with BBC Sport on Friday (June 23). “I’ve been working so hard on my keeping. [Former Hampshire wicketkeeper] Michael Bates has been brilliant for me in terms of everything he’s done for my keeping. I’ll take that – it’s absolutely ridiculous – but I’ll take it.”

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