Playing in front of huge crowd is something to cherish forever: Heather Graham

Despite Australia women’s unbeaten run across all formats this year coming to an end in a super over defeat to India in a thrilling second T20I on Sunday, debutant all-rounder Heather Graham said she would remember the opportunity to play in front of a sell-out 45,238 crowd at DY Patil Stadium for the rest of her lifetime.

Playing in her first T20I, Heather took a crucial 3/22 in her four overs, taking out Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur and Deepti Sharma. Her impressive efforts with the ball also included a 19th over that went for just four runs against the big-hitting Richa Ghosh, in front of a sell-out crowd, marking a huge moment for women’s cricket turnout in India.

“I’m not sure you can compare it (to anything else) to be honest. I think we had about three or four thousand max in (the crowd in) the WBBL. I turned to Phoebe Litchfield who was debuting as well and I was just like, ‘this is insane’. And we just soaked it all in. It’s incredible to be able to come over and play in India and get a crowd like that, it’s something I’m going to cherish forever,” said Heather after the match ended.

When captain Alyssa Healy handed the ball to Heather for the crucial Super Over, the all-rounder seemed confident in her abilities owing to previous experiences in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL).

“I wasn’t expecting to bowl the super over … I thought it might have been (Megan Schutt) Shooter that got the nod. But I’m pretty fortunate that I’ve been able to have experiences like that in the WBBL. So I just relied on that, and the fact that we had the Power Surge as well in the WBBL, that gave me a lot more confidence in myself.”

From the joy of putting up great efforts with the ball in front of a vociferous crowd, Heather was at the receiving end of blitzkrieg from Smriti Mandhana, Richa Ghosh, and Harmanpreet taking 20 runs off her Super Over. Eventually, Australia fell short to lost their first match in any format since September 2021 and first T20I defeat since March 2021.

“Unfortunately it didn’t come off. When I walked off the field, I probably wanted to cry to be completely honest, because I didn’t execute what I wanted. But I think on any other day, if I execute, then it’s a completely different game. So sometimes you’ve just got to take it with a pinch of salt and that’s just cricket for you,” stated Heather.

With the five-match series tied at 1-1, and three matches left to be played in Brabourne Stadium, Heather thinks the Australians will take huge learnings from the defeat as they build up to defending their T20 World Cup title in South Africa next year.

“I think we will just take massive learnings from that. I think the way that we were able to battle our way through that bowling innings and be able to bring it to a super over was an incredible feat for our bowlers and probably gives us a vote of confidence.”

“We obviously know we probably didn’t score enough runs out there, but on any wicket like that, you’ve always got to give yourself a chance and we did that with the ball and in the field.”

“We were really fortunate to be able to get that to a super over … (the conditions) were extremely challenging, I think the wicket just got better and that outfield’s lightning quick with pretty short boundaries. As a bowler it’s not too fun but it was a good challenge to be able to try and defend on the ground like that.”

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