Australia all-rounder Tahlia McGrath has identified arch-rivals England as a huge threat in their Commonwealth Games campaign but says India too will be a challenge in the opener at Edgbaston on Friday. Tahlia only made her T20 international debut in October last year, but will be vital if Australia are to win gold. She smashed 91 not out from 49 balls during the women’s Ashes in January, and currently averages a whopping 247 in the T20 format. “Twenty20 is a format that can go either way, so it’s going to be a really hard tournament, and India first up is going to be a real challenge, but we’re feeling good,” Tahlia said on the eve of the game.
Australia, the undisputed leaders in women’s cricket, are the reigning world champions in T20 and ODI cricket. Women’s cricket is making its debut at the Commonwealth Games. Tahlia said nothing but a gold will do for Australia in Birmingham. “We play at that level now – every game you play you want to win, and every tournament you want to win,” Tahlia said. “We certainly have that hunger and that desire and it’s the first time women’s cricket is in the Commonwealth Games so everyone wants it that bit more.”
The 26-year-old picked England as “high on the watch-list”. “We’ve been keeping an eye on them – they’ve got some really exciting young talent coming through and they’ve been performing really well. They’re a huge threat in this tournament.” On her rapid growth as a player, she said: “If you go back three years, I had a bit of work to do in that format. I’ve worked pretty hard at my game, trying to increase my strike rate, trying to create a few more deliveries with the ball.” The eight teams have been living in a hotel converted into a Games Village. “We’ve been down to the main village, taking everything in,” she said. “We’ve been getting into swapping badges with other non-cricketing nations. Every tournament we do is just cricket, cricket, and cricket, so this is something different and we’re really enjoying it.”