CNSW awards cap record breaker Wilson's stellar summer

'Keeper-batter from the Illawarra region set a new world record and added to her growing reputation across an impressive season

On February 17, during New South Wales' final match of the WNCL season, against South Australia at Cricket Central, Tahlia Wilson quietly set about putting together a world record performance.

Wilson, a wicketkeeper-batter from the small suburb of Albion Park in the Illawarra region south of Sydney, first notched an even 100 to help the Breakers to 9-265 from their 50 overs.

She then took catches for the first five wickets of the South Australian innings, before stumping Amanda-Jade Wellington from the bowling of Erin Burns.

A century and six dismissals.

The first time it had happened from more than 11,000 women's List A fixtures.

"As the catches kept coming, the girls were like, 'How many more are you going to get?'" Wilson tells cricket.com.au. "I think it was just lucky that they kept coming to me.

"But it didn't click on the day (that it was a record). When you put it in perspective now, it's a pretty cool feat, to be the first female and first Australian to do that."

Wilson ends season on a high with hundred

Wilson's excellent finish to the summer (she also made 51 in the match prior) helped earn her the Belinda Clark Medal and WNCL Player of the Year gongs at last Thursday's Cricket NSW awards night, and has the commerce student and 2020 WBBL title winner with the Thunder feeling optimistic about her game as she heads into a brief off-season.

The 24-year-old is among a group of impressive 'keepers across the country all competing – and all biding their time – for one national spot, and last year she joined Maddy Darke (WA) and Nicole Faltum (Victoria) on an Australia A tour of the UK. Wilson didn't get an opportunity with the gloves throughout the tour, but made quality contributions of 56no from 37 balls in a T20 clash, and 81 from 96 balls in a one-dayer.

"We had three 'keepers on that tour, and it's always good to have some competition," she says. "There's only one spot in the team, but you look at the moment at Alyssa Healy, as our Australian 'keeper and skipper, the path she's paved for everyone in the 'keeper-batter space is awesome. So for me, it's just trying to learn off her at Cricket New South Wales, which means picking her brain when she's around.

"From a selection point of view of what's next, I think it's just trying to score as many runs as you can and take as many dismissals as you can at the state level … I think the messaging (from national selectors on that tour) was 'keep sticking at it – we think that you're good enough to do it'."

Wilson backs up century with SIX dismissals

Which is exactly what Wilson has set her mind to doing. Twice last summer she was called into representative sides (for the Governor General's XI game, and CA's Gold v Green three-day match), and having revamped her 'keeping technique under the watchful eye of former Blues gloveman Dan Smith, she has since shifted focus to her batting.

With three WNCL hundreds to her name – the first compiled amid a record-breaking 195-run stand with wunderkind Phoebe Litchfield – she has built an understanding of how to structure an innings of substance, but there is room for adjustment within.

"Now it's about building, to see how I might be able to score a little bit faster throughout an innings," says the 'keeper-batter, who makes the 90-minute commute from Albion Park to Cricket Central in Sydney's west four times a week.

"I was really happy with how my WBBL season went. I was able to add a few more of my shots into my (innings) a bit earlier, and it's just continuing to do that – having that belief to go to the shots that are a little bit more risk for reward earlier in my innings, because I know that when they come off, then I'm off and rolling."

Wilson smashes career-best in huge Thunder total

Wilson was offered her first NSW Breakers contract while in Year 12 and it was enough for her to ultimately choose cricket over hockey, which doesn't boast the same funding and resources as cricket in Australia but remains a strong passion for the right-hander.

Her hockey dreams were inspired by former Hockeyroo Casey Sablowski (nee Eastham), who also hails from Albion Park.

"She grew up just down the road from where I am," she says. "For me to see her journey of being around Albion Park, to then moving to Perth to play for the Hockeyroos and have such a successful career … she was a great role model for me, because if she can do it from Albion Park…"

Wilson leaves that sentence unfinished but the intention is clear nonetheless, and soon enough, she articulates it emphatically.

"Well I'd be lying," she says, "if I didn't say I want to play for Australia."

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