Grace Parsons of Queensland celebrates her wicket during the WNCL match between Queensland and South Australia at North Sydney Oval. (Photo: QLD Cricket)

Grace Parsons announced herself with a stunning 4/33 from seven overs against the South Australia Scorpions in the WNCL last weekend.

A young leg spinner from the flood stricken town of Lismore announced herself with a stunning 4/33 from seven overs against South Australia in the WNCL last weekend.

19-year old Grace Parsons was brought into the attack in the 23rd over, and took her maiden Queensland Fire wicket having Josephine Dooley caught in the outfield in just her third over.

Parsons continued to bravely toss the ball above the batters eye-line, taking wickets in her fifth, sixth and seventh overs, before the game was halted due to rain.

The youngster put on a quality display of leg-spin bowling, at a venue cursed by spinners for the notoriously short boundaries square of the wicket.

Record floods causing chaos back home

What makes Parsons’ debut even more special is that her home town of Lismore on the NSW North Coast was experiencing record breaking floods, wreaking havoc in town and surrounds.

Parsons’ own family was spared any direct devastation, however they were cut off by the floodwater for several days.

“We have extended family who lost homes. Everyone has been affected in their own way,” Parsons said of the stories she was hearing from home.

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Parsons’ father David was a successful baseball player and active in the local cricket community. They were never far from a bat-and-ball, and she was never far from the action.

“My brothers were doing Milo cricket, so I would join in for fun,” Parsons recalled of her earliest cricketing experience.

By the age of 10 she was selected for the Far North Coast Cricket Academy ‘Sixers’ squad – an all girls team participating in the long-running Lismore U12 Cricket Carnival.

Parsons’ involvement in rep cricket continued, with selections in the U16 InterDistrict and the Country and Coast, before being accepted into the NSW Cricket Pathways Program.

It was in the Pathways program that she was encouraged to pursue senior cricket, taking up the art of leg-spin bowling along the way, and playing in a range development and junior tournaments.

Grace Parsons receives her Queensland Fire before Queensland and South Australia at North Sydney Oval on March 06, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo; Queensland Cricket)

Senior Cricket and its challenges

Many northern NSW cricketers end up in Queensland to play senior cricket, and by the age of 15, Parsons was playing for the Gold Coast Dolphins.

However with the border restrictions during COVID, Parsons had a decision to make – either remain in Queensland away from family, or return home and effectively end her season.

She chose to return to Lismore and focus on finishing her HSC, investing any spare time into her cricket training in the nets at her old stomping ground beside her high school.

As a result, Parsons did not take part in any competitive cricket between March 2021 and February 2022.

“There’s always an up to every downside,” she said.

The Call-Up

With all the hard work behind her and some solid performances for the Dolphins, Parsons fondly recalls the moment when she found out she was going to debut.

“I was shocked when I got the call from the head selector [Mel Bulow]. I actually missed it, I was in the shower.”

It didn’t take long for Bulow to get heron the phone.

“All I could say was ‘are you serious?!’”

Receiving her Queensland Fire cap was “a pretty special feeling”, but there was one more surprise for Parsons that morning, with a letter from Belinda McDougall being read out to the playing group.

“‘B’ has been a mentor to me. She captained me at the Dolphins and taught me so much,” Parsons said.

“A few of the girls started crying. Everyone was aware of what’s happening in Lismore.” 

Parsons’ family was unable to travel to Sydney for her debut match due to the floods, with Gary Lovett, her coach, the only one in her entourage to be on-hand.

“Gary – he was crying too,” she said.

She remains humble about her achievements, overlooking that she turned a damp ball sideways on a greasy North Sydney Oval wicket.

And when asked if the weather robbed her of a five-for on debut?

“That’s what all the girls reckon,” she laughed.

Parsons’ debut did not go unnoticed back home, as her old school, local Cricket Clubs and media were quick to post about her success on social media.

“I put a smile on the community’s face. It was very nice to get those messages yesterday.”

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