Tahlia McGrath, the allrounder from South Australia, was a surprise addition to Cricket Australia's 15-member national contract list announced on Thursday (April 30) afternoon. The allrounder, who has not featured in an international since 2017, was rewarded for her consistent showings in the domestic and pathway programs.
McGrath is joined by the pace duo of Tayla Vlaeminck and Annabel Sutherland as the new additions to the 2019-20 list, with Elyse Villani and Nicole Bolton missing out from last season. Allrounder Erin Burns, who was a member of Australia's recent T20 World Cup winning team at home (and earned an upgrade last year) is also not part of the list.
“Tayla Vlaeminck and Annabel Sutherland were upgraded to CA contracts last season and were members of Australia’s triumphant ICC T20 World Cup squad," Shawn Fleger, women's national selector said. "They have emerged as key figures in the Australian Women’s Team and deserve their place on the contract list."
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“Tahlia McGrath had a brilliant season with the Adelaide Strikers and South Australia, winning the Andrea McCauley medal. She’s been a consistent performer over the last few seasons with bat and ball, including the five matches she played for Australia during the 2017 Ashes series."
In 2019-20 Women's Big Bash League, McGrath scored 327 runs and took 14 wickets in Adelaide Strikers' campaign. She backed it up with strong performances in the Women's National Cricket League as well scoring 261 runs and taking 13 wickets - the most for South Australia - proving to be one of the lone positives in a disappointing season for the side.
Through her outings for Australia A - the tour of England and the home series against India - McGrath furthered her cause putting in consistent performances with both bat and ball. Flegler insisted that her inclusion in the contract list would add more 'depth' to the squad, with Ellyse Perry and Vlaeminck returning from injury.
“With Tayla and Ellyse Perry coming back from long-term injuries, Tahlia will add extra depth to our allrounders, especially with her bowling. We saw that depth come into play during the recent World Cup and we know that will be important with another World Cup scheduled this summer."
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“Given the success of the Australian Women’s team across all formats over the past 12 months, beginning with an Ashes victory in July and culminating in a historic ICC T20 World Cup victory last month, the contract list has remained relatively consistent year on year."
For those who missed out, Flegler insisted the door was "not closed". Burns and Molly Strano, who were both part of Australia's World Cup winning squad were unlucky not to make the cut, while the batting duo of Villani and Bolton - both of whom were unable to reach their normally lofty standards last season - will have to work their way back up.
The batting duo aside, CA's contract list remains largely the same with 12 players retaining their contracts from the 14-member list last season, and one new addition.
“The door is not closed on any of the players who did not receive a new CA contract. There will be plenty of opportunities for Nicole Bolton and Elyse Villani, who both missed out, to make their case once cricket resumes. Both are world-class when at their best, so hopefully they can dominate domestic cricket and put their hands up for selection."
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“Erin Burns was unlucky to miss out having been upgraded to a full contract this season but is highly rated by the selectors. She’s an adaptable player and is still in the mix for future selection."
“Molly Strano also misses out despite being drafted into Australia’s World Cup squad and playing an important role, but she too is highly rated and will be looked at for future opportunities.”
Contracts have been awarded to players based on their performances over a 12-month period. With the Australian team preparing for another World Cup, Flegler insisted that the aim was to keep the core group together and maintain consistency.
Australia currently sit at the top of both ODI and T20I rankings after dominating the international circuit for the most part of two years. To further underline their supremacy, the trio of Jess Jonassen (ODI bowling), Ellyse Perry (ODI allrounder) and Beth Mooney (T20I batter) currently find themselves at the top of the ICC player rankings.
Players who have not been included in the initial 15-member list may earn upgrades through the course of the season if they accrue 12 upgrade points. Two points are awarded for each ODI and T20I, while a player receives four points for playing in a Test match.
2020-21 central contract list: Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Meg Lanning, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham