ACT cricket twins set to tear up under-18 girls carnival in Canberra

Twins Grace and Naomi McDonald are playing for the ACT under-18 girls team national cricket championships in Canberra. Photo: Jay Cronan Grace and Naomi McDonald have been playing cricket together since they were 10 years old. Photo: Jay Cronan

Their coaches and teammates struggle to tell them apart and identical twins Naomi and Grace McDonald have a joint goal to make their way through cricket’s junior ranks into the WNCL and hopefully Australian colours.

But just don’t ask Grace about the time her sister caused a runout that evoked memories of Steve and Mark Waugh’s woes when they were batting together.

“I swear I was going to get a 50 that day, I know it. Instead she was the one that made 50,” Grace grins.

Then Naomi chimes in: “Yeah, I ran Grace out during the selection process a few months ago in the final, she hasn’t forgiven me for that yet.

“[It wasn’t payback] for anything, she was just too slow.”

The McDonald sisters will lead the ACT-Country NSW charge at the under-18s girls national championships in Canberra this week.

The pair, who are based in Grafton, have been playing for ACT junior sides since they were 15 as part of an agreement with Cricket NSW.

They will continue their push for future careers in the senior national women’s league with a dream of one day playing for Australia.

And they are emerging on the selection stage at the perfect timing as the women’s Big Bash League booms, shocking officials with its television ratings and popularity.

“We got into cricket because our neighbour across the road played cricket and then our brothers, one older and one younger, got involved after us,” Naomi said.

“They were always fierce battles in the backyard … let’s just say we always won those.

“This is our third time playing in the under-18s national titles and we’ve played in the under-15s as well. I guess we’d like to [play for Australia] if it works out. I don’t know how realistic it is, but it’s a goal. But we’d love to play WNCL as well.”

The under-18s titles helped launched the careers of dual international Ellyse Perry and Australian captain Meg Lanning.

Grace will open the batting for ACT-Country NSW throughout the tournament while Naomi is an all-rounder.

They were split up in the competition last year, with Naomi playing for NSW Metro and Grace lining up for the ACT-Country NSW side.

“It didn’t worry me, but it was very different. I kind of enjoyed being separated in that I was focused on my game,” Grace said.

“I find when we play together I focus on my game and Naomi’s and I want her to do well. I did want to get the win over her though, that was a big factor.”

The ACT-Country NSW side will play seven round games before the finals on January 19.

Three players with WBBL experience will line up and ACT-Country NSW coach Andrew Dawson says that will reinforce a pathway for junior girls.

“It’s only starting to dawn on them now that they are involved in a very, very strong pathway, and that’s credit to Cricket Australia,” Dawson said.

“You’ve got to tell them to be bold and have a go – don’t have a fear of failure. We’re stressing to the girls to enjoy this week and we have high expectations this week.”

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