With a record crowd set for the opening T20 of the Ashes multi-format series, Australia's Grace Harris is preparing tactics to deal with England on and off the pitch
How Harris plans to tame the Hollies
Grace Harris has a clear plan in mind for Saturday’s first Ashes T20I at Edgbaston.
That is, for how she will approach the Eric Hollies Stand, if she happens to find herself fielding in front of the notoriously boisterous section of the Birmingham ground.
More than 20,000 tickets have already been sold for the first of the three Ashes T20Is, with the game likely to set a new attendance record for a bilateral women’s match in the United Kingdom.
Harris had a taste of the atmosphere at Edgbaston during last year’s Commonwealth Games, where Australia won gold, and is eager for more.
"I really enjoy their banter and I enjoy all their funny little lines and cheers, it's always great fun and it brings atmosphere, which as a cricket player it's actually more what you want rather than just a silent crowd," Harris said in Birmingham on Friday.
"(My) pro tip from the past is that (you need to) give them whatever they want early, and then they might leave you alone after that.
"So if they want a wave, just wave ... if they want to stretch or two, maybe a hamstring sweep.
"Give them whatever they want early and they won't really heckle you.
"If you give him absolute doughnuts, yeah, you're in for a long day."
Harris offered a typically honest assessment of how she fared in her first two knocks following her belated arrival in the United Kingdom last week.
Dispatched to Leicester to join Australia A while her teammates were playing in the Ashes Test at Trent Bridge, the explosive middle-order batter decided to use her two appearances for the ‘A’ side as an opportunity to test a few theories.
"I tried out a few things that I thought might be effective over here ... turns out I was wrong," Harris said of her dismissals for 17 and three.
"Mainly just a sweep shot and how to access it best … because these wickets tend to be a little bit lower and slower than back in Oz.
"Just figuring out scoring zones because they can be a little bit different over here.
"But I think I'm better for that experience, and to have those couple of warm-up matches before the Ashes (T20s) actually start."
Harris was nonetheless full of confidence when she was reunited with her Australian teammates in Birmingham this week, hammering just about everything that came her way in the nets during Thursday’s main training session at Edgbaston.
Now she just hopes form in the nets can translate into the middle.
"For so early in the season at the moment, I'm actually like – touch wood – I said to (Jess Jonassen), I need to not be hitting the ball this well this early, I need to peak later," she said.
"I just have felt lately like I'm in really good positions when I'm batting and I'm pretty clear in my thought process out in the middle and whatnot.
"So I hope it transitions into actual games and not just training or just the warm-up games."
Australia hold a four-nil lead in the multi-format series following their victory in the one-off Test at Trent Bridge.
They only need eight of the 16 available points to ensure they will retain the Ashes – meaning they need to win at least two of the six white-ball matches – but Harris said they would not get ahead of themselves.
"Four-zero doesn't mean anything now, especially because if England get that first T20 win, it's four-two and they're only one win behind," she said.
"So we're just trying to start fresh again."
CommBank Ashes Tour of the UK 2023
Australia squad: Alyssa Healy (c), Tahlia McGrath (vc), Darcie Brown, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Grace Harris, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham
England Test squad: Heather Knight (c), Natalie Sciver-Brunt (vc), Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Bell, Kate Cross, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Lauren Filer, Danielle Gibson, Amy Jones, Emma Lamb, Issy Wong, Danielle Wyatt
Australia lead the multi-format series 4-0
Test: Australia won by 89 runs
First T20I: July 1 at Edgbaston, Birmingham, 6.35pm (3.35am July 2 AEST)
Second T20I: July 5 at The Oval, London, 6.35pm (3.35am July 6 AEST)
Third T20I: July 8 at Lord’s, London, 6.35pm (3.35am July 9 AEST)
First ODI: July 12 at The County Ground, Bristol, 1pm (10pm AEST)
Second ODI: July 16 at The Rose Bowl, Southampton, 11am (7pm AEST)
Third ODI: July 18 at The County Ground, Taunton, 1pm (10pm AEST)