FORMER Australian women's captain Belinda Clark has cast doubt over whether elite female players could be successful against men after England wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor revealed she was in talks to play second XI county cricket.
Taylor, 23, has an informal agreement with coaches at Sussex that she will be chosen to carry the gloves for their second team should they require a keeper at short notice in the coming English season.
Female players have competed with men before - Australia's Ellyse Perry played and did well in a Sydney grade cricket under-21 Twenty20 game in 2010 - but never at such a high competitive level.
Clark, who is senior manager of Cricket Australia's Centre of Excellence, believes Taylor would acquit herself admirably for the county but has reservations about how successful the integration of sexes would be in general in cricket.
''I don't think it's unusual for really top female sportspeople to be competing against males at some level,'' Clark said. ''But generally speaking in a lot of sports - and cricket would be in the same basket as athletics and swimming and tennis and hockey - where there is actually a physical differential that, at some point, becomes an issue.
''That doesn't mean that the girls wouldn't benefit from being exposed and challenged to different forms of competition. The girls are asked to be constantly challenging themselves so it certainly would be that … there is certainly no reason why you couldn't play at the highest level you possibly can.''
In The Guardian, Taylor speaks about breaking new ground for women's sport.