In the late stages of the T20 cricket final at the Commonwealth Games, held in Birmingham in early August, it seemed India was poised defeat Australia. But the match’s fortunes turned around when Australia’s bowler Ashleigh Gardner spectacularly dismissed India captain Harmanpreet Kaur — clinching the gold for Australia.
A month after that victory, Ms Gardner and teammate Grace Harris reflected on the epic wicket at a Commonwealth Bank staff event hosted by Chief Marketing Officer Jo Boundy.
“The pressure was on because [Ms Kaur] has hit me for a lot of sixes, so I was pretty nervous,” confessed Ms Gardner, speaking to a live and virtual audience from CommBank’s head office in Sydney.
“Cricket’s a fascinating game where it’s very fickle… It can change just like that,” she said. “They’re the moments that you live for as a sportsperson when the pressure’s right on you, and actually being able to succeed in those situations is pretty sweet.”
Ms Gardner and Ms Harris are members of one of the most successful Australian cricket teams ever, with their Commonwealth Games gold following victory at the Women's Cricket World Cup in New Zealand in April. The players took several audience questions — including an international question from Ram Sreepada, a senior manager from CBA India. Graciously congratulating Ms Gardner and Ms Harris on their “to the wire” win at the Commonwealth Games, Mr Sreepada memorably asked what it takes for teams to “win matches from the jaws of death”.
“We believe in ourselves and we believe in each other,” answered Ms Gardner. “We know what to do when our backs are up against the wall.”
Ms Harris agreed. “I think what we do very well is we go into every game organised and planned,” she said. “If you don’t have a plan then you kind of plan to fail.”
The conversation between Ms Gardner, Ms Harris and Ms Boundy touched on a number of topics, including pathways for First Nations players in women’s cricket. Ms Gardner, a proud Muruwari woman, said that while opportunities are growing, there’s much more room to improve access to cricket facilities.
“For me it's being able to be a role model for those [First Nations] kids and actually have them [able] to look up to someone, because you can't be what you can't see,” she said.
Ms Harris spoke about her team’s obligation “to grow the game globally” in order to ensure international matches stay competitive.
“We owe it to … all other nations around the world, that might not have the access to facilities that we’re lucky enough to have at the moment, to pass on tips and logic and a bit of tactics around the game and just to help them grow their game back home,” she said.
Ms Boundy explained CommBank is a proud champion of Australian women’s sport, and has supported women’s cricket for more than 20 years.
“We're really proud of the role that we've played in fostering and nurturing and supporting our future sports stars. It's fair to say we've got a pretty incredible Australian women's cricket team,” said Ms Boundy.
The players agreed CommBank’s support is crucial to allow players to dedicate themselves to cricket full-time and — in Ms Harris’s words — “live out [their] childhood dreams”.
“To have a brand like Commonwealth Bank be on board for so long, it just shows their commitment to women’s sport,” said Ms Gardner. “We’re very proud to wear the CommBank logos.”
Banner image: Grace Harris, Ashleigh Gardner and Jo Boundy.