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WBBL 2021-22 – Sports psychologist the secret to Tahlia McGrath’s success

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Some one-on-one sessions with South Australia sports psychologist David Steventon over the last 12 months have helped McGrath simplify her game

Tahlia McGrath credits her meteoric rise to being the form allrounder of Australian women’s cricket partly to her sports psychologist.
Player of the series against India earlier this month, McGrath has started the WBBL with a bang in Adelaide Strikers’ unbeaten start to the tournament. But the 25-year-old is the first to admit she’s had to learn that you can’t put an old head on young shoulders.

An Australian debutant at 21 in the 2017 Ashes, McGrath managed just one international between that series and the start of this summer. She has made the most of her recall through injuries, averaging 79 with the bat against India while also taking four wickets.

That came before scores of 42 and 50 not out for Strikers, as well as 3 for 17 in the opening game against Sydney Thunder. It’s made her a near-certain pick for the Ashes, despite the impending returns of Rachael Haynes, Jess Jonassen Megan Schutt.

“It’s taken me a while and it’s been a frustrating journey with lots of little glimpses and starts, but not consistent enough,” McGrath said. “But it’s just been simplifying how I go about my cricket.

“I’ve matured a lot as a batter and learned how to construct my innings a lot better, especially in T20 cricket. That’s literally keeping it as simple as possible, playing to my strengths and not over-complicating things which I have fallen into the trap of before.”

McGrath said her biggest change had come from sitting down with South Australia’s sports psychologist David Steventon over the past 12 months.

“Initially I was a bit hesitant, thinking I’m not sure how much I can get a benefit out of that,” McGrath said. “But he did a few group sessions with us, I liked what he said and had a few one-on-one sessions and it’s gone from there.

“Cricket is such a mental game that I thought why not tap into that aspect of it? So much we can get caught up in our own minds and especially when we are batting, over-complicating things.”

It’s part of what she believes has helped make her more patient and willing to time her run with the bat.

“In the past, I took unnecessary risks early…I was getting too caught up in hitting boundaries,” McGrath said. “It’s just been about trying to get into my innings before I go to the next gear. I’m more mature and learning how to structure my innings a lot better in T20 cricket now.”



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SA Women vs WI Women 2021-22

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She could become first West Indian and only fourth bowler in women’s cricket to get 300 international wickets

A new variation to unleash on the opposition and four wickets to add to her tally during the four-ODI tour of South Africa.

These, along with helping West Indies fine-tune their preparations ahead of the ODI World Cup in March-April, are on the checklist of their premier offspinner Anisa Mohammed as she heads into the bilateral series next week, four wickets shy of becoming the first West Indies women’s player to 300 wickets in international cricket.
“I’m currently working on a new variation,” Mohammed, the leading ODI wicket-taker of 2021 and the all-time highest wicket taker in T20Is, said in a virtual press conference from Johannesburg. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to use that in this upcoming series against South Africa, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to execute and get a positive result from that.”
Behind only India’s Jhulan Goswami, England’s Katherine Brunt, and Australia’s Ellyse Perry, Mohammed, who has 171 wickets in ODIs and 125 wickets in T20Is, is hopeful the series against South Africa starting on January 28 at the Wanderers propels her to the distinction of the first spinner to reach the 300-wicket mark in the women’s international game.

“This would be a huge milestone for me. I’d really like to get it in this series and not have to wait for the World Cup,” Mohammed said. “That’s something that I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. I’ve been working on my game and I really hope that I’m able to pick up just four [wickets]. I’m just telling myself, ‘Four wickets – I have four matches to get four wickets,’ so I’m really excited.”

A veteran of four ODI World Cups and West Indies’ most-capped player, Mohammed, 33, is mindful of the responsibility her experience and heft of personal achievements in a career spanning nearly 19 years bring with them, especially with the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand around the corner.

“I’m one of the senior players on the team. This is my fifth ODI World Cup. And I’ve said to some of the younger players, ‘Playing in a World Cup the atmosphere is different and you have to keep a level head.’ I think having played four World Cups – this will be my fifth one – I have to step up as the one of the senior players on the team and try to perform and while I do that, try to keep the younger players calm and help them to be able to go out there and execute as well.”

“It’s a great feeling to be named in the ICC ODI Team of the Year last year,” Mohammed said. “And that’s definitely inspiration to go forward and try to make it into this year’s team as well. To be honest, I’m just trying to enjoy my cricket. As you know, I’m coming to the latter part of my career, so I’ve been trying to enjoy whatever is left of my career.

“I’ll be 34 this year. I don’t know how long I have, but I just really want to make sure that when I leave cricket or when I retire, I have a good memory of West Indies cricket and representing West Indies.”

West Indies were not among the five teams to earn direct qualification to the ODI World Cup but made the cut based on rankings in the wake of the pandemic-enforced cancellation of the global qualifier. They will fancy their chances against South Africa, who will be missing their designated captain and premier legspin-bowling allrounder Dane van Niekerk through an injury.

“That’s a big blow for South Africa. And it’s never nice when you have an injury,” Mohammed said. “But if you’re looking at winning and losing, I think that’s an advantage for us because, as we know, she’s a key player for the South Africa team, not just in her batting and bowling but also her leadership qualities. And I think that we have to take full advantage of that – of her not being here. But having said that, I would like to wish her a speedy recovery.”

Mohammed, for her part, will spearhead an attack bolstered by the addition of the experienced legspinner Afy Fletcher in their 18-member squad.

“We’re really excited for Afy. It’s nice having her back,” Mohammed said of Fletcher, who is returning from a maternity break, having last played for West Indies in September 2020. “Unfortunately, she could not bring the baby with her. We would have liked to have a baby on tour, like the other teams, but she calls her baby every day and chat with him online. So it’s nice having a baby around and having some fun with him as well.”

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha



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Recent Match Report – Challengers vs Dhaka 4th Match 2021/22

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Tamim Iqbal scored 52 but no other team-mate could build on that start

Chattogram Challengers 161 for 8 (Jacks 41, Rubel 3-26) beat Minister Group Dhaka 131 (Tamim 52, Shoriful 4-34, Nasum 3-9) by 30 runs

How the match played out

Chattogram Challengers brought down the very experienced Minister Group Dhaka by 30 runs to round off a thrilling second day in the BPL. Nasum Ahmed‘s superb figures of 3 for 9 scripted Dhaka’s doom, including Andre Russell’s wicket, before he could get going in the chase of 162.
Left-arm quick Shoriful Islam mopped up the lower order with career-best T20 figures of 4 for 34, as Dhaka were bowled out for 131 in 19.5 overs. Chattogram had put on a competitive 161 for 8 in 20 overs, with the English pair of Will Jacks and Benny Howell providing big hits at either ends of the innings.
Dhaka were unable to take advantage of a good start provided by Tamim Iqbal‘s 42nd and second straight T20 half-century. Instead, Shoriful and Nasum engineered a collapse by sharing seven wickets in their eight overs.

Big hit

Two big overs helped Chattogram knock over Dhaka. Shoriful took out Tamim, for 52, and Jahurul Islam in the space of three balls in the 12th over. Nasum then removed Mohammad Naim and Dhaka captain Mahmudullah in the 14th over, and Dhaka had slipped from 73 for 1 to 83 for 5 in the space of three overs.

Nasum then took out Russell in his last over. A big hit was palpable but when Russell mistimed a hoick, and Shamim Hossain stayed calm under the skier for his third catch.

Chattogram got an early boost when Jacks struck 41 off 24 balls, with six fours and two sixes over midwicket and square leg, all within the first 7.4 overs. Howell added three sixes of his own, one over long-on and two high over square leg, towards the end of the innings, in his 19-ball 37. Rubel Hossain, meanwhile, made up for his poor figures in the first match, this time taking 3 for 26.

Big miss

After being bizarrely run out on the tournament’s opening day, Russell had another day to forget. He conceded 17 runs in his only over, before getting out for 12. He also dropped two catches. The only saving grace for Russell was the two good catches he held on to.

Chattogram captain Mehidy Hasan Miraz also went wicketless after taking a four-wicket haul in their game on Friday, but he would be more than happy to pick up the hard-fought win.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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BCCI rejigs schedule of India vs West Indies ODIs and T20Is to avoid clash with IPL auction

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The board also confirmed the ODIs will be played in Ahmedabad, followed by the T20Is in Kolkata

The BCCI has confirmed that the venues for the limited-overs series at home against West Indies will be Ahmedabad and Kolkata, and has also advanced the third ODI from February 12 to 11, to avoid a clash with the IPL auction slated for February 12-13. As reported by ESPNcricinfo on January 20, the board had planned to keep the venues to two instead of the original six, to limit any chance of the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the series.

The BCCI said the move was “to mitigate biosecurity risks by cutting down on travel and movement of the teams, match officials, broadcasters, and other stakeholders.”

The tour will begin with three ODIs, which will all take place in Ahmedabad, and the teams will then move to Kolkata for three T20Is. The ODIs are scheduled on February 6, 9 and 11. The opening T20I will now take place on February 16 instead of 15, and the remaining two T20Is will go ahead on February 18 and 20, as originally planned.

As reported by ESPNcricinfo earlier, the BCCI had mooted the change of dates, and was waiting to make an official decision after discussions with Cricket West Indies.

Last September, while unveiling India’s home calendar for 2021-22, the BCCI had named Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Kolkata as the venues for the ODIs, with the original dates being February 6, 9 and 12. The T20Is were to be played in Cuttack, Visakhapatnam and Thiruvananthapuram, on February 15, 18 and 20.

Apart from avoiding a clash with the IPL auctions, the change in schedule is a precautionary step by the BCCI, taken in response to the growing number of positive cases in India, which is currently experiencing a third wave of the pandemic, with the Omicron variant dominant across the country. Though the impact of this wave has been less severe than the preceding Delta wave, the high degree of transmissiblity of Omicron has led to stringent curbs on movement and public activities, particularly in big cities.



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