The WNCL season ended in heartbreak for Tasmania, but the fact it was even in a position to make the Final at all is a testament to its growth over the last 12 months.
After finishing second last on the ladder the season prior, the Tigers doubled their win count and finished third in 2021.
We spoke to now 2021 Female Tigers Player of the Year at season’s end.
Following an undefeated start, Tasmania lost its last three matches to fall out of the top two and just miss the Final.
While it was a bitter pill to swallow, the team’s improvement this season, due in part to moves like signing former West Australian all-rounder Heather Graham, means that the Tigers have a bright future going forward.
“It was nice to see all the improvements and hard work that we’d put in over the extended pre-season paying off,” Graham told The Inner Sanctum.
“I think it showed in that first little bit and we just weren’t able to continue our run towards the backend of the season. But overall, I was really pleased and excited to see how far the team had come, it was just unfortunate that we couldn’t get over the line in that last game in South Australia.”
Graham brought a long list of accomplishments and experience to the Tigers when she joined, despite only being 24 years old.
She was the Women’s Domestic Player of the Year in 2019, a WNCL champion with WA and she made her ODI debut for Australia two years ago.
But by her own admission, her 2019/2020 WNCL campaign was a lean one by her standards.
The move to Tasmania saw her recapture some of her best form though, including a couple of impressive individual efforts.
She made a brilliant 116 run stand off just 110 balls against New South Wales and her five-fer against South Australia included a hat-trick.
“It’s pleasing to be able to contribute to the team,” she said.
“I think I had a pretty lean season the season before, so it was nice to get back to scoring some runs and taking some wickets.”
Graham has previously talked about her desire to play more games for Australia after her one ODI appearance.
While that still remains a goal of hers, her primary concern at the moment is bringing Tasmania a WNCL championship.
“I think that will play out how it plays out. But as long as I can put the performances on the board I guess that’s all I can really do.
“I obviously want to play for Australia again, but playing for Tassie comes first and putting performances on the board that will hopefully get the team over the line.”
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The move down south has been beneficial both on and off the field.
Graham has enjoyed the circuit breaker that being in a new environment has provided, while she’s been able to spend more time with her partner, wicketkeeper Emily Smith, who moved to Tasmania the previous year.
“Personally, I think it’s been a great change,” Graham said.
“I guess getting out of WA and the environment I’d been in for so long and to be able to come somewhere new and completely different.
“I’m really happy with where I’m at with cricket and life outside of cricket. It’s been really refreshing to be able to move down here and to be able to live with my partner after spending a year doing long-distance. It’s been really nice.”
Beyond playing in the WNCL, Graham also lines up for the Perth Scorchers each summer.
But last year was a completely different experience with the entire WBBL season taking place in the NSW hub.
While it was a new and challenging situation, Graham said it was one every player was willing to go through.
“Whatever we needed to do to play cricket at the time was what everyone was willing to do,” she said.
“I think it was obviously an interesting experience, but I think everyone’s learnt from it and we’ve taken some good experiences away from it that we can put into practice for the next little bit. COVID’s not going anywhere, so I think having that experience in the hub is going to put everyone in good stead.”
She is unsure whether her association with Tasmania could also see her suit up for the Hobart Hurricanes someday.
“I’ve still got another year with the Scorchers,” Graham said.
“It allows me to go back home and have some time with the family, unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that season with being in the hub. But you just never know, it’s cricket.”
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