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 Alyssa Healy: Australia’s World Cup winner ‘back to reality after doing a good job’

Alyssa Healy: Australia’s World Cup winner ‘back to reality after doing a good job’

Alyssa Healy
Australia’s World Cup win added to the T20 World Cup and Ashes crowns they already hold

It is two weeks since opener Alyssa Healy batted herself into the record books with a jaw-dropping century to help Australia win the ICC Women’s World Cup final against England in New Zealand.

“Back to reality”, she says with a broad smile, relishing the normality of a bit of home maintenance.

“The innings hasn’t really changed me or my life too much, which is probably a good thing. It’s my job, after all. I guess I can tick the box and say that I did a good job.”

Healy did much more than a good job. It is typical of her humble and grounded nature that she regards her record-breaking 170 from 138 balls – the highest individual score made in a men’s or women’s World Cup final – as the equivalent of a good day at the office. It will go down as one of the greatest one-day international innings of all time.

Had she realised what an incredible knock she was playing at the time though, it might not have lasted so long for the wicketkeeper-batter.

“This is going to sound a bit silly, but it never felt special at any point, which is probably a good thing,” she says. “It meant it never really clicked in my mind what was happening.

“I was a little bit worried about heading out there and facing the new ball, knowing their attack.

“Once we got through that little tricky period, it was put the foot down and consolidate. It was one of those days where everything seemed to come off, so I was pretty lucky in the end.”

The luck extended to being dropped on 41 after Australia had been asked to bat first.

However, the skill and game awareness to build her innings, to accelerate, to manipulate fields and execute shots like the ramp – which is not a shot she finds naturally comfortable to play – and the lofted cover drive (“sometimes I get a little bit amazed at how I can hit the ball over cover”) was all about talent and aptitude, not chance.

“I don’t know where it comes from,” she says of her ability to clear the off side boundary.

“I’ve played a lot of hockey in my life, so there’s that natural bat swing. I play a lot of golf too. But I love the ability to hit over the off side. I think it’s such a natural cricket shot.

“I get to watch [Australia captain] Meg Lanning do it quite a lot in our team. Any time you hit a six over mid-off or cover, it’s pretty special.”

‘A sense of achieving something so much bigger’

To chat with Healy is to engage with a thinking cricketer. Like many of her team-mates and opponents, she has become more aware of her place within the broader scheme of women’s cricket and women’s sport, the longer her career has gone on.

The basic motivation to win and achieve team success is now thickly layered with a cognisance of the legacy role she is playing in shaping the future for others.

“It’s an overwhelming enjoyment of cricket as a whole at the moment,” she enthuses. “It’s a growing sport around the world, and [it’s about] making it accessible for lots of young girls out there.

“For me, that’s what I’m enjoying the most. Obviously I love the game, and I always have, but it’s this sense of achieving something so much bigger than winning trophies and medals that’s keeping me going.”

Australia might be streets ahead of every other nation because of the years of professionalism behind them, but Healy believes the gap can be closed.

“You look at South Africa who had an unbelievable World Cup and played some really good cricket and beat a lot of really good sides,” she says.

“They’re not as supported as what we are. With proper investment and looking at our pathway system in particular, I can see the game moving forward for a lot of other nations and see it being really competitive.

“This World Cup was the closest I’ve ever been part of, so I think the gap isn’t as far as everyone seems to suggest.”

A women’s IPL?

India are regarded as the sleeping giant of women’s cricket, and despite the team’s rapid profile rise on the back of making the finals of the World Cup in 2017 and the T20 World Cup in 2020, the country’s cricket powers have been slow to establish a women’s Indian Premier League.

“I think it’s naturally the next step,” says Healy of a women’s IPL. “The women’s game in India is such an untapped market.

“You look at the India side at the moment and I’d be terrified to think how good they’re going to be in 10 years’ time if they get the opportunity to experience a lot of cricket in a lot of different places, and have international players come in and play in a women’s IPL.”

A rise in domestic leagues though will need to be balanced with a growing international schedule in which the top female players are on tour for longer than ever before. Particularly with the desire to play more Test cricket. Healy agrees that a degree of cautious planning is necessary.

“We’ve always been screaming for more cricket and more international cricket, so all of a sudden if you throw in domestic leagues in there you’re taking away from the international game,” she explains.

“The opportunities are amazing so you’d be silly not to take that up, but there’s going to have to be some sort of balancing act to make it work.”

At home, Healy balances her own life by spending time with her two Staffordshire Bull Terriers, time on the golf course where she is a three-handicapper, and time with her Australia fast bowler husband Mitchell Starc.

She chuckles at the order in which these three pastimes are put to her, and laughs within deliberate earshot of Starc that the order of priorities is absolutely spot on.

At the age of 30, she is often asked how long she intends to play for and what’s next. In the coming months the return of cricket including the debut of women’s cricket at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in July is a definite target. She has also signed for the Northern Superchargers in the Hundred.

So there are still new experiences to be had for this passionate, talented, history making cricketer.

More good days at the office too, no doubt.

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