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THE INSIGHT EDGE, WITH IG: Tahlia McGrath 91* (49)

Using data, analysis and insight is key to performance in both investing and cricket. Here, CricViz analyst Ben Jones looks at the match-winning innings from Australia’s all-rounder.

The T20I segment of the 2022 Women’s Ashes was intended to be a three-match series, followed by a Test match in Canberra, and then three ODIs to round out the tour. Unfortunately the Australian weather has so far intervened and restricted us to just one game at Adelaide Oval. However, it was an eventful affair, with Heather Knight’s England coming charging out of the blocks to post a very competitive 169/5, only for Australia to chase down the runs with three overs remaining thanks to a remarkable effort from Tahlia McGrath. In just her fifth T20I, the South Australian struck an unbeaten 91 from 49 balls to take Meg Lanning’s side across the line with time to spare, alongside the skipper herself on 64* (44).

McGrath’s T20I career so far has been outstanding. After three trips to the middle she’s still yet to be dismissed, with her two previous appearances (both against India last summer) bringing 42* (33) and 44* (31). However, in contrast to Thursday’s effort, those two innings came at No.6; as a result, one of the more impressive aspects of McGrath’s Adelaide innings was the way she managed the rate, and the game situation. When she came to the crease, Australia were 26-1 after four overs and the required rate was just above 9rpo – manageable, but that early on in the innings one would be concerned about it getting out of hand. What McGrath did expertly was pace her innings; 14 runs came off her first 10 balls, but then 19 off the next 10, and 25 off the 10 after that. By the 12th over, the required rate had been reduced to just 7rpo, a speed of scoring which would be straightforward even with new batters at the crease, collapse-proofing the chase as a result. It was a mature and effective assessment of conditions and the task ahead of her, showing nous and tactical intelligence one wouldn’t necessarily expect from someone playing their first innings in the top three.  

Aside from the explosiveness of McGrath’s innings, evident in the scorecard and the highlights reel, a key feature was the control. Across the knock, McGrath played just 11.7% false shots, a figure which would be below average in a Test match let alone a T20, and was comfortably the lowest recorded by any of the five players to face 10+ deliveries in this match. Matching that with an attacking shot percentage of 89% – the highest of those five players – shows precisely what an excellent innings this was.

In terms of who she attacked specifically, McGrath took apart England’s seamers and spinners with equal ferocity. Her efforts against the quicks, 44 (26), almost exactly matched her efforts against the spin, 47 (23), but there was one English bowler who took the brunt of McGrath’s onslaught more than the rest. Sarah Glenn was taken for 25 runs in the 10 balls she delivered to McGrath, the most runs any batter has scored against Glenn in any of her 26 T20 internationals. The leg spinner wasn’t far off the mark, but the Aussie No.3 was ruthless in the way she targeted the second youngest player in the contest.

The areas in which McGrath scored was notable. Rather than trying to hit too heavily down the ground, the South Australian used the square boundaries very effectively, scoring heavily behind square on the legside. England did well to deny her width outside off and recognised that they needed to keep their lines tight, but whenever they got too tight – drifting from being in line with the stumps to straying down the legside – McGrath took them apart. England’s seamers strayed legside 11 times in the course of McGrath’s innings, and those deliveries went for 27 runs – that’s almost 15rpo.

The big discussion in the run into this match was whether or not Australia would select their star all-rounder, Ellyse Perry. Despite her stellar record across the international stage, Perry struggles comparatively in T20 cricket, and ultimately, Australia opted against including her, a huge statement given her standing within the game. While it drew plenty of surprised comments from those slightly more casual followers of the Aussie team, those closer to the debate would have pointed to the quality of those in the XI, including McGrath herself, as evidence of why the talisman would not really be missed. McGrath’s ability to play an innings of this calibre while also sending down four overs at just over a run a ball – as she did in this match – ensures that even aside from the question of quality, Australia are able to balance their side without Perry in it. The bank of varied and high quality players available to Matthew Mott and Lanning, is enviable.

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