Tahlia McGrath in action for South Australia. © Getty Images

Suzie Bates, top-order batter from New Zealand and captain of the Adelaide Strikers, is set to make her debut for South Australia in the first round of the Women’s National Cricket League beginning on Sunday (September 22).

Having previously represented Western Australia in the Australian domestic circuit between 2012 and 2015, Bates has played 11 matches in the tournament. She comes into the squad fresh off a stint with Southern Vipers in the Women’s Cricket Super League.

Leader of the Strikers and a former New Zealand skipper as well, Bates will bring a great deal of experience, calm and skill of the highest level to the side. 

In the absence of captain Megan Schutt who is unavailable following a successful tour of the West Indies, Tahlia McGrath, the young allrounder, has been named captain of the squad for the first two matches. Already having led the National Performance Squad and Australia A, McGrath has some experience to turn to.

Like Bates, the 23-year-old too comes into the season having taken part in the WCSL. She played 10 matches for Lancashire Thunder, scoring 219 runs at a strike rate of 105.28.

“I am absolutely thrilled for the chance to be able to captain the Scorpions,” said McGrath, who compiled her maiden WNCL century last summer. “I’ve had a little bit of a chance in the past with Scorps City, some NPS, some Australia A stuff but the opportunity to captain the Scorps who are just like a second family to me, I’m super excited.”

Emma de Broughe, Stacey Oates and Darcie Brown, all newly contracted players in the SA setup, have been selected in the squad, with at least one set to make her debut.

“They’ve all had a really good pre-season and it’s just really nice to have fresh energy and fresh faces around the group,” McGrath said. “Stacey Oates has really impressed me. With the new ball (she) is really dangerous and she’s just someone that keeps improving year after year so I’d really love to see her get an opportunity up front with the new ball and show what she’s capable of.”

The tournament will mark the beginning of the partnership between Luke Williams, head coach, and Jude Coleman, the assistant coach— both of whom, McGrath says, have helped create a positive environment within the team.

“I feel as though the group’s in a really good space at the moment, (Luke and Jude) have created a really good training environment. Everyone’s just relaxed and enjoying their cricket and excited to get under way with Round 1.”

SA clash with New South Wales, the defending champions, in their first match of the season on Sunday, followed by a game against Australian Capital Territory on Tuesday (September 24). Both matches will be played at the Karen Rolton Oval.

Squad: Sam Betts, Emma de Broughe, Ellie Falconer, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Darcie Brown, Tahlia McGrath (c), Bridget Patterson, Tegan McPharlin, Stacey Oates, Suzie Bates (OS), Annie O’Neil, Eliza Doddridge, Alex Price

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