For a moment in June last year, Tahlia McGrath wondered aloud if she should give up bowling altogether.

The opening game of Australia A's tour of the UK tour had not been a good one for the South Australian allrounder. The seventh bowler used in a 50-over match against a near full-strength England side, McGrath leaked 27 runs off a single over, three no balls and two wides adding to a horror day for a player who had been deemed good enough to play Test cricket less than two years earlier.

Serious back injuries in 2017 and 2018 had hampered her hopes of maintaining her spot in the national side, but that day at the Loughborough University was one of her lowest points.

"She came off and she was pretty distraught, as you could imagine," Scott Prestwidge, the A side's assistant coach and himself a former Queensland fast bowler, tells

"It was her first trip to England, it was her first game … she's one of those characters that doesn't let a lot out, but you could just tell that she wasn't overly impressed with her spell.

"And she just made a little comment on the way through, a 'I need to give up bowling' type of comment."

Over coffee the next morning, the pair spoke openly. McGrath asked if she was good enough to play for Australia again. Prestwidge told her the truth; he believed she had the attributes to be another Ellyse Perry, but there was an intensity, a level of hyper-professionalism and attention to detail, that was missing.

After coffee, the pair headed back to the nets at Loughborough for a one-on-one training session that would, in the space of just 12 deliveries, get to the bottom of why McGrath's bowling had fallen to such depths.

While the physical trauma of two serious back injuries in two years had healed, the mental scars well and truly remained.

For more than a year, the fear of another injury, of more scans, of more painful rehabilitation, had been holding McGrath back.

"I was so self-conscious of breaking down again and not being fully confident that I probably needed someone to tell me, 'You're holding back, and you've got a lot more in you'," she says.

"I went through a stage where I was having an MRI basically every month. And even when I thought it was behind me, a bit of oedema would creep back in, so it was always in the back of my mind. I dreaded every MRI I had to have.

"I didn't think I was, but looking back, I was definitely holding back. I wasn't fully attacking the crease and I wasn't getting the most out of my body that I could.

"We tried a few (balls) where I just ran in and bowled flat out and I just noticed there was a massive difference between what I was doing and what I was capable of.

"From that conversation I thought, 'I can do it'."

Prestwidge remembers: "I said to her, 'You want to be a fast bowler, but you actually run in like a medium-pacer, or like a park cricketer'.

"She was so hellbent on being technically right and making sure the ball was coming out right, and not as focused on the competitive side of the game.

"And you do get that (after injuries) … you get into this mechanical mentality when you're thinking about your action all the time and not actually on how to produce pace.

"I told her to run in for 12 balls at about 80 per cent. She was bowling on this featherbed and giving grief to all the batters. And it was a bit of a moment for her."

Andrea McCauley Medallist McGrath had an outstanding 2019-20 season for the Statewide Super SA Scorpions and Adelaide Strikers

Not only did those 12 balls completely turn around McGrath's fortunes on that tour, it changed the trajectory of her career.

Just three days later, in the A side's next 50-over match, she bowled four overs for figures of 1-9 – including two maidens – and followed it up with a run-a-ball 48 with the bat.

A week after that, in a three-day red-ball clash against a full-strength England side, McGrath was one of the few bowlers to get some life out of an unresponsive surface, a performance that was not lost on national selector Shawn Flegler, who was watching on from beyond the boundary.

"She caused Heather Knight and all those players, all the top girls, grief," Prestwidge remembers.

"(Flegler) turned to me and said, 'I don't know what you've said to her and what she's worked on, but she looks like a fair dinkum first-class cricketer that can play for Australia'."

Nine months later, after McGrath had continued her resurgence at home and been one of just three players in the Rebel WBBL to take 10 wickets and score more than 300 runs, Flegler called with an offer of her first-ever national contract.

He then publicly echoed Prestwidge's sentiments that while a superstar like Perry is almost impossible to replace, he believes McGrath has the attributes to come close.

Less than 12 months after that horror over at Loughborough, McGrath's road back to the national side for the first time in three years has never been clearer.

"It's tough looking back on it and it took me a very long time to get over it," she says.

"But coming out of it, it's made me a better bowler. It's made me work on a few little tweaks to my action, it's made me work on my strength and my fitness.

"There's definitely been some positives to come out of it and hopefully it's full steam ahead from here.

"The fact that I haven't played a game (for Australia) for two-and-a-half years, the hunger is certainly been there to get back. To get a contract is just amazing news."