Graham wins domestic player award

Western Australia and Scorchers allrounder Heather Graham has been honoured for outstanding WNCL and WBBL form

Laura Jolly

11 February 2019, 08:21 PM AEST

Domestic Player of the Year: Heather Graham

Allrounder Heather Graham has long been earmarked as a potential future Australian player and if her latest achievement is anything to go by, an international call-up may not be too far away for the Western Australian.

The 22-year-old pace-bowling allrounder trumped a host of international stars to be crowned the Women's Domestic Player of the Year at the Australian Cricket Awards in Melbourne on Monday night.

Graham was acknowledged for performances for WA and the Perth Scorchers across a voting period that encompassed the entirety of the 2017-18 Rebel WBBL season, alongside the end of last summer's Women's National Cricket League and the first two rounds of this season.

Graham's big recovery after dropped catch

Voted for by the players, Graham collected 29 per cent of the vote to poll ahead of Australia allrounder Ellyse Perry (22 per cent) – whose heroics in the recently completed WBBL season fell outside the voting period – and batter Elyse Villani (14 per cent).

During that time Graham scored 481 runs at 30-06, while also picking up 32 wickets at 19.94, with an economy rate of 79.37, with highlights including scoring 43no against Victoria and taking 4-31 against Queensland to help WA reach the WNCL final last summer.

And she took that form with the bat to another level early in this summer's 50-over competition, scoring 60, 70, 101 and 52 across the first four matches of the season, while also collecting 10 wickets.

Graham bats for Western Australia in the WNCL // AAP
Graham bats for Western Australia in the WNCL // AAP

Australia captain Meg Lanning, who has had a first-hand look at Graham's talent at the Scorchers across the last two summers, has been impressed by what she's seen.

"There's no doubt she's very talented,' Lanning told Direct Hit.

"She's very skilful as well and the good thing is, she's probably got three aspects to her game that can really help a team win.

"Her bowling probably was the standout (in the most recent WBBL season) but I also think her batting can be very dangerous at times.

"She's always been someone who hits the ball and wants to score runs and I think that's a really important part of it, so hopefully she continues to improve."

Australia will name their ODI squad to play New Zealand in three matches beginning on February 22 later this week, and while breaking into the No.1 ranked team won't be an easy task for Graham, her resume to date is well worthy of consideration by selectors.

She debuted for Western Australia aged 15, has already toured overseas with Australia A and was part of the National Performance Squad which spent eight weeks training at Brisbane's Bupa National Cricket Centre last winter.

It was that time in Queensland that allowed Graham to not only become the fittest she's ever been, but also to develop new areas of her game during the preseason – in particular, working on her batting technique with NPS coach Leah Poulton.

That toil paid off during WBBL|04, when she topped the wickets tally – picking up 22 scalps at 16.95 – while also striking 161 runs.

Graham stars with bat, then ball

In previous years, Graham's training and other cricket commitments had to be juggled alongside her part-time job working for a concreting company.

But now, thanks to a new pay deal that has increased wages for Australia's female domestic players, she's been able to dedicate herself full-time to cricket – and it seems to be paying off.

"It's given me so much more time to be able to focus on cricket," Graham told cricket.com.au in the lead-up to the 2018-19 season.

"And when you're away from cricket, not having to think about what you've got to do at work, working was quite draining for me so just focusing on cricket has given me a lot more freedom.

"And it means I'm feeling a lot happier about my game."

CommBank ODIs v NZ 

February 22: First ODI, WACA Ground, Perth

February 24: Second ODI, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide

March 3: Third ODI, Junction Oval, Melbourne