‘I’m thoroughly impressed by India’s domestic players’: Grace Harris
Australia all-rounder Grace Harris talks about her ball-striking skills, the experience with UP Warriorz in the inaugural WPL and the talent pool in Indian cricket
For many, Grace Harris going at ₹75 lakh in the auction was a major steal by UP Warriorz. The Australian all-rounder has established herself as arguably the most powerful hitter in the game, as was evident in her sensational 59 not out off 26 balls in UPW’s first win of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) against Gujarat Giants.
Meg Lanning finished as the leading run-scorer at the end of the league stage with 310 runs in eight innings. Despite playing half the number of innings, Harris returned with 216 runs at a strike-rate of 170.08.
The 29-year-old played a major role in UPW’s run to the playoffs and is determined to deliver another strong performance when her team faces Mumbai Indians in the eliminator at the DY Patil Stadium on Friday. Excerpts from an interview with Harris:
You’re one of the best ball-strikers in the women’s game. How do you train for power hitting?
The first step to power hitting is that you have to have a good base. Your footwork is not necessarily important, but you have to have access to the ball and be still. You have to be able to power-hit from a still base. It’s a bit like baseball. If you watch them, they anchor their feet and power-hit with their hips. So, batting is pretty similar to that, except your bat could end up on a different line based on where the ball has pitched. Other than that, it’s just about a clean bat swing. Often, players get it wrong when they try to over-swing — you try to hit the ball 100 metres instead of just 60. So, in my head it’s about 90 percent swing and if you make good, clean contact with a still base and eyes on the ball, more often than not it goes for six. These are the three key things for me to hit sixes.
In training, I start by hitting a bulk number of balls just on one line and length, and then change. And once I’ve hit a heap of balls from those lines and lengths, I get a thrower in and hit random balls. Your instincts take over at that point and you know how to do it.
Have you been specifically assigned the role of finisher in the UPW Warriorz team?
I try to take one innings and ball at a time. Our coach Jon Lewis tries to ensure we’re playing to our strengths at all times. Wherever I line up, I just try to figure out the match situation I’m in, the bowlers that are left, who I can potentially target, and which end I can target if there’s a short boundary and I’m not quite set but can get away with a little bit. And then it’s about working with your partner at the other end and being flexible. I mean at the end of the day it’s just cricket, right?
Your thoughts on the performance of India’s domestic players in the WPL?
I’m actually still surprised by the depth in Indian cricket. There are a number of great players, the ones in our team are quite young so I can understand why they are still uncapped. They’re either very young or still relatively new to cricket even if they are a bit older in age. I’ve learned that they haven’t been playing cricket for too long, and it takes time to know your own game and understand it. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the players in our team earn India caps in the coming years. I’m thoroughly impressed by the domestic players. I know they aren’t in the lists of top performers, but that’s irrelevant really for the first season. Internationals dominated the first season of the WBBL too. So, it’s not shocking. In a couple of seasons, there will be domestic players running wild in the top performers’ lists. I’m looking forward to seeing that. It’s what the WPL is all about really.
Australia are undoubtedly the strongest team in the women’s game and their players have had a big say this season. Several players have had to deal with more losses than they are perhaps used to. How has the experience been?
Overall, it’s been quite positive. I don’t think any Australian player went into the tournament thinking they were going to win every game. You’re in a domestic team competition, after all, and know that even if you’re the one player who can change the game, you still need the others to perform to win the competition. So, I think they’ve just been trying to embrace the whole experience, it’s mainly about developing world cricket and Indian domestic talent. It’s about helping the youngsters in whatever way possible and passing on the knowledge.
Is there a sense of competition among the Aussies?
I’m not going to lie. The Aussies definitely want to win games and stand up for their franchises. There is competition around. You keep an eye on who has made the final, who hasn’t, who’s scoring more runs and taking wickets. You always want to beat the Australians in the other team that you’re coming up against (laughs). It’s all healthy competition though, and there’s no animosity between any of us. We’re just enjoying the experience.
How do you look at the eliminator against Mumbai Indians?
They’re very competitive and will put up a strong fight. We may have beaten them in the league stage but that doesn’t matter anymore. Mumbai Indians have world-class players and a great domestic list as well. Harmanpreet Kaur loves a good knockout game, doesn’t she? She always stands up in these big games. So, it might be a battle between her and Alyssa Healy, who is also a big-game player. It’ll be great to beat Mumbai in Mumbai again. We’d love to have more UP Warriorz support in the stands, but you know what, we’ll take it however it comes and just roll with it.
In Sophie Ecclestone, Deepti Sharma, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Parshavi Chopra and yourself, UPW have a strong spin attack. Your thoughts?
Our spinners have been outstanding throughout the tournament. Parshavi has been absolutely amazing and has probably been one of the bigger revelations for us. She bowled the 19th over to a set Ash Gardner and delivered very well. So, I think our spinners can take a lot of confidence into games. When we are bowling our lines and lengths, we know that world-class players are going to struggle because there are going to be good balls. So yeah, credit to our spinners… it’s made batting a lot easier for me.