Women’s Ashes: Twenty20 tyro Grace Harris savouring late Southern Stars call-up

Grace Harris’ full-time job is in admin, yet she is not one for the minutiae of life. That was why she screwed up her face and replied in the negative during off-season training for Queensland’s women’s team when her coach, Andy Richards, asked her if she had checked her email.

“Truthfully, I’m pretty slack with my emails,” she said.

The reason for her coach’s insistence was the urgent notification from the Southern Stars’ chief selector, Shawn Flegler, that her state teammate – and fellow Twenty20 thrasher – Delissa Kimmince had suffered a back injury that was set to rule her out of the Southern Stars’ women’s Ashes squad, and that she would be the beneficiary.

“It was kind of a bad situation, a bit bittersweet for me, because I’m really good friends with ‘DK’,” said Harris, 21.

In the past two seasons of the Women’s Twenty20 competition, which will transform this summer to the Women’s Big Bash League, the right-hander has hit 16 sixes, more than even the world’s top Twenty20 batter and her new captain, Meg Lanning.

“We both probably prefer to play a bit more exciting brand of cricket. We both have short attention spans, so if we’re out there too long then we can nod off. That’s kind of when we get out,” Harris said.

“If we’re in the game, it’s like ‘Look out people on the boundary, because you’re gonna get some action’,” Harris said.

“I’m still yet to hit the 36 off six balls. That’s the goal. That’d be awesome!” she said with a smile.

Harris made her international debut in last week’s three-match series against Ireland that served as a way for the Southern Stars to transition from the longest format of the game, the Test, to the shortest, the Twenty20 component of the women’s Ashes series.

In her first match she “burned” Ellyse Perry in a run-out mix-up and then fell for a duck herself – hardly an auspicious start – but by the last match she crunched 39 not out from 21 balls, including two sixes, to win player of the series.

Even more impressive for her teammates, however, was the way she has coped with her hazing. This involved wearing a bum bag, stocking it with lollies and being available on a whim to supply them to her teammates. Her preference of Percy Pig lollies has been almost universally popular.

“Everyone is a fan, except ‘Ossie’ [Erin Osborne]. She likes licorice, but who the hell likes licorice? My nan likes licorice, 80-year-olds like licorice – but no one else I know,” she said.

Harris said she had no expectations of being guaranteed to play in any of the three Twenty20s against England, let alone all three, and was stoked just to be part of the Australian squad.

“I got the easy part. I got here at the end of the tour and we’ve almost won the Ashes. We just need to win one more Twenty20 match and we’re there,” she said. “They’ve done most of the hard work. I just get to show up and have the fun!”

Jesse Hogan is covering the Women’s Ashes with the support of Cricket Australia