CommBank T20 Series v NZ
McGrath sets sights on WT20 after setback
South Australia allrounder Tahlia McGrath wants to push her case for a T20 call-up as she overcomes a frustrating setback
22 June 2018, 02:22 PM AEST
Allrounder Tahlia McGrath is putting an interrupted end to the summer behind her as she sets her focus on breaking into Australia’s 20-over team ahead of this November’s World T20 tournament.
McGrath was well in the mix for Australia’s ODI and T20 tour of India in March, but her hopes of making the subcontinent trip were dashed just a day before the squad was announced when an MRI revealed the beginnings of stress fractures in her back.
Having suffered the same issue last winter, when stress fractures ended her hopes of being part of Australia’s 50-over World Cup squad, the 22-year-old knew there’d be no rushing back into bowling.
Instead, she’s playing the long game, knowing that a resilient body will be crucial if she wants to play a major role in a busy period that is looming for Australia, featuring two World T20s – this November’s tournament in the Caribbean and another in Australia in early 2020 – and an away Ashes, alongside a host of other bilateral contests, between now and March 2020.
"The last Women’s National Cricket League game was pretty much a day before the India squad was announced and I had a fair bit of back pain,” McGrath, who is targeting a return to bowling soon, told cricket.com.au.
"It was in the same spot where my previous stress fracture was and I got an MRI and had a bit of bone edema, which is the start of stress fractures.
"We caught it early so it didn’t turn into that full crack of the bone, four months out that I had to do last time.
"I’m pretty confident I’ve given it a fair bit of time to rest and it should be behind me from now on.
"I’ve had a pretty big focus over the last couple of weeks on trying to get my fitness and strength up and the goal from here is to work on a few things and hopefully get on a few tours.”
McGrath has played four one-dayers and one Test for Australia but has yet to make her debut in the shortest format of the game. The South Australian admits it’s the format that comes least naturally to her, but it’s also one she is determined to make an impact in.
"I haven’t got a spot cemented in the T20 side yet, so to try and get on that plane to the World T20 is something I’ll be working pretty hard to do,” she said.
"My natural game is more suited to the longer format, that’s something I’ve identified to work on this preseason to try and increase my strike rate and maybe bowl a few more deliveries that are suited to the T20 game. That’s going to be my focus.
"I got a fair bit more opportunity last year with Adelaide Strikers, I moved up the order and took on the new ball a few times and saw some massive improvements in my T20 game.
"I’ve still got a long way to go but last year was a huge step for me."
After watching Australia complete a successful tour of India from afar – whitewashing the ODIs before scoring what was then the highest ever total in a women’s T20I during a tri-series victory – McGrath can see a blueprint for how she needs to play to be part of that team.
“They played some really good cricket over there,” she said. “It’s been coming for a long time so to see them put it on that display was a really good spectacle and it sets a bar for where their cricket is and where I need to get to, to play at that level.
Helping McGrath is the fact she’ll be spending big chunks of the winter training at the Bupa National Cricket Centre – often alongside the contracted Australian players – in Brisbane after being included in the women’s National Performance Squad.
“Spending most of the preseason in Brisbane is awesome, not just escaping the Adelaide winter but working with people like (Australian high performance coach) Leah Poulton be extremely beneficial for my game and hopefully help me take the next step,” she said.
Commonwealth Bank T20I series v NZ
September 29: First T20I, North Sydney Oval, Sydney
October 1: Second T20I, Allan Border Field, Brisbane
October 5: Third T20I, Manuka Oval, Canberra
Commonwealth Bank ODI series v NZ
February 22: First ODI, WACA Ground, Perth
February 24: Second ODI, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide
March 3: Third ODI, Junction Oval, Melbourne