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Women’s Ashes 2022: Tahlia McGrath making herself indispensable to Aussie cause

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Whether its T20s, ODIs or Tests, Tahlia McGrath has become almost the first player picked by Australia. And her development should serve as a role model to anyone looking to improve – here’s how she did it.

If you ask those who’ve been by Tahlia McGrath’s side over the past five or so years, they’ll tell you they’ve witnessed a cricketer who has faced a number of challenges.

And someone who’s overcome them using steely determination and quiet dedication to get back to the top of the game.

From stress fractures in her back in 2017 and 2018, to falling out of favour with the Australian set-up, to struggling with consistency, she’s overcome it all and now finds herself – after three consecutive Player of the Match awards – being talked about as the best all-rounder currently in Aussie colours.

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McGrath’s performance in the opening Ashes T20 match last week – taking 3-26 and then smashing an unbeaten 91 from 49 balls – has seen her power up the ICC’s player rankings, now sitting as the world’s No. 28 T20 batter, despite having only played three completed matches in the format (with two wash-outs).

SA women’s cricket coach Luke Williams, who has been mentoring McGrath at state level since the 2016-17 WBBL season, said what was impressing him most was her consistency.

“Her ability to continually contribute, to be so level-headed in her mentality and her approach, both on and off the field, has played a huge role in her success,” Williams said, emphasising that her performances have been building over a number of years.

“It hasn’t just been the last 12 months, I think that about three years ago there was a shift in her.

“She’s always been a diligent trainer and completed what’s been asked of her in our training programs, but she now has a steely determination to maximise the most of her ability and to go as far as she can in the game.

“And that’s through her actions, not just words, and being prepared to train and, at times, train things she was uncomfortable with, including her fielding and physical work.”

McGrath’s last three innings for Australia have produced 52 in the current Test against England, 91 not out (v England) and 44 not out (v India) in the T20 format. In the one-off Test against India last October, she hit 28 (68 balls) while she also scored her maiden ODI half-century against the same opponent.

While her form is impressive, Adelaide Strikers and SA Scorpions teammate, Tegan McPharlin, says it’s been McGrath’s development from quietly spoken cricketer, to strong leader that has been most profound, blossoming as Strikers captain in the WBBL in 2021.

“When she first came into the team, you didn’t hear her say two bobs … she was a quiet character, who just got on with her own business,” McPharlin said.

“Now all her naturally cool, calm and collected leadership abilities have come to the forefront.”

McPharlin said it had also been incredible to watch McGrath try every avenue in her pursuit to improve, including meditation and visualisation.

Stemming from that mindfulness, Williams said McGrath’s progress had been fuelled by a new-found ability to compartmentalise the game.

“A big area that she’s progressed in recent seasons has been her ability to separate previous deliveries or previous matches from what’s next,” he says.

“It sounds simple but she’s been able to find some things that work for her so that if she’s batting under dot-ball pressure, or with the ball she’s been hit for four, she’s been able to park that stuff and be able to move on.”

Strikers assistant coach, Jude Coleman, said what she was loving seeing from McGrath was a bravery with bat and ball that was allowing her natural flair to come out.

“She now has that self-belief and support in the environment where she can just let it out,” she said.

“Behind the scenes, what impresses me when I’m working with her, is her willingness to try the things that you ask her to try, she’s not set in her ways and is quite open to try different things.

“Sometimes that can mean she’s got a lot of deliveries she’s got to work herself through and figure out which is best in which scenario, but she’s certainly willing to give anything a go and is always looking to get better.”

Originally published as Women’s Ashes 2022: Tahlia McGrath making herself indispensable to Aussie cause



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