Australian cricket has two new gold girls rising to stardom in the WBBL Finals in Ashleigh Gardner and Tahlia McGrath.
Gardner this week added the WBBL MVP award to her status as reigning Belinda Clark medalist, with the Sydney Sixers all-rounder being one of the most dangerous players in the game.
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In the last two years, she has hit 100+ for Australia in both white ball formats, averaging 36.15. She was also the team’s third-highest wicket-taker at 25.
She will emerge as the Sixers’ X-Factor, with her 85/48 against the Sydney Thunder last week showing that Saturday’s venue at the North Sydney Oval is far too small for her.
McGrath’s run is arguably better.
The Adelaide Strikers skipper has been named Australia’s new vice-captain for the tour of India after an incredible 18 months.
McGrath, who was off the national team prior to last summer, has been a fixture ever since with a 56.15 average across all formats.
Australia has long had one of the most reliable cores in world cricket, with Meg Lanning, Alyssa Healy and Ellyse Perry at the helm.
But at a time when a changing of the guard is looming, Gardner and McGrath are sitting up front.
“The way Ash is putting together her cricket resume, she’s already achieved so much, but she still has a lot to do,” said Perry.
“But if you look around Australian cricket there are so many superstars at the moment.
“Look at Tahlia last year and the 12 months she had.
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“Someone like Phoebe Litchfield, who was called up to her first Australian team and just the incredible potential she shows.”
Perry has seen Gardner’s development since she was a teenager in NSW before seeing her explode.
“It comes from continuing to mature, gaining more experience and learning more about your game,” Perry said.
“It’s just the beginning for them. It’s scary to think how young she is.”
Gardner is one of the reasons the Sixers will be a favorite going into Saturday’s final.
While they relied heavily on their brand names like Healy and Perry in their early years, their surge this summer has been built on broader contributions.
They also had a much easier run-in than the Strikers, who were forced to fly out of Adelaide at 6am on Friday to get to Sydney for the final after sleeping just three hours after Thursday’s win over Brisbane.
McGrath later admitted it wasn’t “ideal” but insisted nothing would stand in her side’s way after last year’s huge disappointment against Perth.
“Losing a final is never easy,” McGrath said.
“We were pretty disappointed last year and used that hunger to race the whole season.
“We go out there without fear to play our best cricket and we want that trophy pretty badly.”
Here’s how to watch the WBBL Grand Final
Coverage of the WBBL Finals begins Saturday at 5:00 p.m. AEDT (4:30 p.m. ACDT) and will be streamed live and free on 7mate.
Cricket fans are treated to expert insight and analysis from Seven’s esteemed group of WBBL callers and hosts, including Lisa Sthalekar, Katey Martin, Holly Ferling, Brad Hodge and Andy Maher.
You can also follow all the action with scorecards, stats and more in our brand new game centers.
https://7news.com.au/sport/cricket/ashleigh-gardner-v-tahlia-mcgrath-who-will-come-out-on-top-in-the-wbbl-final-c-8967725 WBBL Finals: Ashleigh Gardner vs. Tahlia McGrath watching the Sixers vs. Strikes clash