McGrath stars in ultimate Ashes coronation

Tahlia McGrath took three wickets and hit 91no with the bat to help Australia start the Ashes with a win.

GRACE HARRIS of the Heat.
GRACE HARRIS of the Heat. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Tahlia McGrath produced one of the finest games in T20 history to celebrate her coronation as Australia's chief allrounder and start the Ashes with a nine-wicket win over England.

Just hours after Australia made the biggest selection decision in memory by dropping superstar allrounder Ellyse Perry, McGrath made a statement with 3-26 and an unbeaten 91 off 49 balls at the Adelaide Oval.

McGrath's spell with the ball dramatically changed the match, restricting England to 4-169 when they looked likely to post something closer to 190.

She then helped pull off the biggest T20 chase in Australia's history, coming in at No.3 and taking control of the game.

It marked the first time in history a female player has scored 75 or more and taken three wickets in a T20 international.

It was McGrath's player-of-the-series performance against India last year that sparked the squeeze that pushed Perry out of Australia's T20 team, holding her spot when Rachael Haynes returned from injury.

And on Thursday night she showed why.

McGrath hit 13 boundaries and a big six in her knock, bringing up a 28-ball half-century as Australia chased down the target with three overs to spare.

She showed class late-cutting behind the wicket, hit hard through the offside when given width and smashed her one six over the legside from Freya Davies.

"When you look at the players sitting on the sidelines, it's such a quality side," McGrath said.

"I wasn't even sure if I was going to get the nod tonight to play.

"So when you get your opportunity you've got to make the most of it, because there are plenty waiting in line more than capable."

Meg Lanning hit 64no in the chase, after moving herself to the top of the order with Beth Mooney out injured.

Alana King also took a wicket on debut, deceiving Tammy Beaumont to have her caught-and-bowled after England had got away to 0-81 off 10 overs.

But the star of the night was McGrath.

With England motoring at 2-141 in the 17th over, she bowled both Danni Wyatt (70) and Nat Sciver (32) with yorkers to stem the flow.

She also got Amy Jones in her next over, while playing in just her fourth T20 international.

Meanwhile, Perry's omission came after a week of conjecture about her spot, but is still a significant shock given her standing as one of game's greatest ever players.

She has battled to regain her best with the ball since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted her comeback from a hamstring injury two years ago.

Coach Matthew Mott also noted that Australia were after middle-order players who could produce a strike rate of 150 when quizzed on Perry's position earlier this week.

Perry is still regarded as one of the world's best in the 50-over and Test formats and will retain her spot when selections are made for those matches.

T20s and ODI are worth two points in the multi-format series, while four are available in the one-off Test.