After making her T20 international debut in the Australian Women’s Cricket Team’s tour of India in December, all-rounder Heather Graham is riding high after being given the news that she could again don the green and gold, this time for a World Cup title.
Taking the equal most wickets during Australia’s recent tour of India, Graham looks set to continue her stint in the side this summer ahead of the T20 World Cup in South Africa in February.
Fronting the media ahead of the start of the home series against Pakistan, Graham is excited by the possibility of being a part of a title instead of being sidelined.
“I’m actually really excited about it, the last World Cup I was a reserve so I’m really excited to go away and be a part of it, be a part of the team and be able to get on the park as well,” Graham explained.
Being included in the Australian set-up even as a reserve player over the past year, Graham describes what being in the squad is like and how that prepares her to be around the group in a playing capacity.
“Just the way everything runs as a team, I think in any team that you are a part of it’s always completely different so I think being able to be around the group for that period of time and I guess seeing what people are doing around what they are supposed to do it was good to be able to see that so hopefully we can go over and take that into my game in the world cup as well.”
Making her T20 debut for Australia in India, Graham was presented with her cap prior to Game Two of the series alongside young batter Phoebe Litchfield. She described the feeling of being able to represent her country on the international stage and how she dealt with that pressure.
“It’s a pretty surreal feeling to be fair, it’s not every day you get to play for your country so I’m pretty fortunate and I don’t take it for granted that’s for sure and so anytime I can get out there and I’m usually pretty nervous, I’m not a nervous character but when you represent your country, it’s a little bit different,” she said.
Being presented with her cap by all-rounder Tahlia McGrath, she describes their journey as young cricketers together through the ranks coming full circle with the presentation.
“It was Tahlia McGrath that presented my cap, I’ve played all under-age against her and played a lot of NPS (National Performance Squad) cricket and that sort of stuff with her. To be able to have her present my cap and the journey that we’ve probably been through as cricketers together, I think it was pretty special and to have my partner over there as well who flew over the night before, it was pretty lucky at the time so I was really fortunate.”Embed from Getty Images
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Graham spoke of the confidence that her performances in India gave her in showing her that she could play at the level which was backed in by the selectors.
This series was underscored by her hat trick in the final game and with four wickets taken in total to send the Indian lower-order packing.
“[The tour of India] gave me a heap of confidence, obviously I haven’t played at that level for a long time now so to be able to go out there and be able to do something was really quite nice,” Graham said.
“I’ve got the confidence in myself and also the team as well, that we are going to be able to go over to South Africa and put up a really good performance. I’m really excited as well so it’s awesome to be able to go over to South Africa, I’ve been there maybe once so I’m really looking forward to it.”Embed from Getty Images
Reflecting on her second chance in Australian colours after a move from Western Australia to Tasmania, Graham sees her chance to bring home glory as the ultimate payback for their part in her development.
“It has been a whirlwind couple of years, to be honest, I think I haven’t spent too much time [in Tasmania] over the last little bit. I’ve been here, there, and everywhere, especially with COVID,” she said.
“I have been really fortunate that Tassie has helped my development over the last couple of years and I’m very fortunate that hopefully, I can pay them in return by bringing home the World Cup.”
She then speaks humbly about the strength of the Australian side and how it shows how far she has come to be included in a squad of the highest calibre talent in all facets. For Graham, a highlight of the tour against Pakistan will be the second T20 international which will be played at her home stadium, Blundstone Arena.
“I think that with such a strong squad that they’ve got it shows in the 50-over squad that how good the depth in Australian cricket is at the moment. I wasn’t too sure if I was going to get picked or not so I’m really, really glad I have and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity,” Graham said.
“Fingers crossed I can get out on the park on that, obviously it’s an absolute road out at Blundstone, it’s probably a batter-friendly wicket but we’ve probably seen over the last couple of days in the Big Bash [League] it’s not been as batter-friendly as we would like which I don’t mind as a bowler.”
Joining up with Graham at International level, Dan Marsh has become an assistant coach to serve under Shelley Nitschke after her elevation to head coach after the departure of Matthew Mott. Playing under him at Tasmania, Graham describes what he will bring to the side on his second tour.
“It was nice to be able to go on a tour with Marshy on his first tour, I think I’ve been pretty fortunate to be able to work with him, he’s such a great coach and he’s got such experience and a wealth of knowledge so looking forward to him putting that into practice and into the world cup team as well.”
The six-game series against Pakistan will kick off at North Sydney Oval on January 16th with the T20 World Cup to start on February 11 in South Africa.
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