Each major multisport showcase produces beautiful, magnetic characters who have always been present at their chosen event, but who finally get the chance to shine on a bigger stage.
Her simple philosophy for winning T20 matches might appeal more to the cricket community, while her perfectly executed public speaking – open demeanor, hands spread wide for explanation, clear voice – will appeal to everyone. Add in a pair of bright yellow ankle socks with images of dalmatians pulled up high but “dull” by her standards, and her ambition to become an international shooter because “you can eat a tub of ice cream before your event” and we’ve got our star .
Harris played her 17th T20I but batted in one for the first time since 2016, coming in at number 7 and playing the aggressor in that union, crushing 37 from 20 balls while Gardner contributed 14 to as many deliveries. Once Harris was well caught by Harmanpreet Kaur, who ran to her left from the center area of Meghna Singh’s bowling, Gardner resumed the lead to finish with an unbeaten 52 out of 35 to see her side to victory.
It’s more how you play the game… or how happy you are with how you get out
Grace Harris understands that in T20 cricket you have to take risks anyway
“I’m not worried at all,” she said. “India is a great team. They have always been a challenge. Their opening bowler moved it off the wicket and into the air. She threw well, and you have to give credit where credit is due.”
“I’m happy with the top order to face the swinging ball. I’ll take every chance I get to bat at this point because I don’t often spend that much time in the middle at number 7″ I’m disappointed with how I got out – it was probably the only match I didn’t connect with the best.”
Harris explained that for her, T20 cricket is all about the way she plays.
“We’re really just reinforcing our depth in the batting formation and if you’re going to win T20 cricket it’s not ideal to lose wickets I’ll say but… runs on the board always matter, wickets not so much considering you only have 120 balls to face.
“It’s more how you play the game… or how happy you are with how you get out. Essentially, it’s risk versus reward cricket.
“In T20 cricket that’s actually how I look at it as a player and I think in the Australian cricket team we’re encouraged not to take unnecessary risks so much as to take risks and make them a bit calculated or trained in the scenario that you’re in.”
As the more experienced hitter, you’d expect Gardner to have lured Harris through her innings, but a few minutes of talking with Harris becomes clear what Gardner meant when she said Harris had done “most of the talking” through their partnership.
“She was really confident when she came out and that’s the best thing about her,” Gardner said. “We know what she’s capable of and we’ve seen her in domestic cricket for so long and it’s great to see her do that in Aussie colors too.
“People would probably have written us off at 5 for 50, but I knew what Grace was capable of when she came out and she really put the pressure back on the bowlers.”
And she clearly enjoyed being part of a larger sporting event where she could associate with swimmers as swimmers, who are more widely known among athletes in Australia than in most other countries.
When asked which sport she would like to participate in if she had to choose another, her answer was simple: “It would be shooting. I read at an Olympics one year that [one athlete] ate a whole tub of ice cream before going out and I thought, ‘if you can do that for your sport, that’s the sport for me’.
So, now to those socks: “I always wear funky socks. I have a Dalmatian dog, Dorrie, so I went with Dorrie today, I went with the yellow background. I think these fit the kit best.
“I have a pair of red socks [with] burgers and fries. I don’t know if I will take them out, it could be a bit too much color, a bit too full. I might get confident enough to wear them to the next game, but today I kept it really boring to me.”
There’s one thing Grace Harris isn’t, and that’s boring.
Valkerie Baynes is general editor at ESPNcricinfo