The Australia keeper-batter on being driven by competitiveness, her performances in recent World Cups, and life with her better half, Mitch Starc
Australia batter Alyssa Healy became the first cricketer to score a century in the semi-final and final of a World Cup during her remarkable run at the 2022 tournament. Healy's 170 against England surpassed fellow Australian Adam Gilchrist's 149 in 2007 as the highest individual score in a men's or women's World Cup final.
Healy, who turns 33 later this year, says her biggest strength has remained being competitive ever since her dad forced her out of the sandpit and took her to cricket nets. Though equally adept and skilful at field hockey, she fell in love with cricket, which also led her to meeting the love of her life - Mitchell Starc. Both have won Player of the Tournament titles at ODI World Cups: Healy in 2022 and Starc in 2015.
In this conversation, during Australia's T20I series in India in December, Healy talks about the role Starc has played in her success. She also breaks down her batting skills, talks about how muscle and strength are fast defining modern women's cricket, speaks about what she has learned from greats like team-mate Ellyse Perry, and the future of women's cricket.
Over the years you have performed at the highest level, soaked in the most intense pressure, and performed under the weight of expectations. You have done it in World Cup finals more than once. Which has been the most high-pressure situation you have faced in a high-stakes cricket match?
The T20 World Cup final in Melbourne in 2020 was probably the highest point of pressure and expectation. Playing a World Cup at home, trying to fill the G with 90,000 people, there was a lot of pressure on us to be in that final to try and break that record. From that point of view, that one was probably the highest point. And in saying that, it was probably the most enjoyable as well because of that pressure and that expectation, and the fact that we'd worked really hard to get there so we could just enjoy the moment in the final.
"The pressures Mitch deals with have given me some perspective about my game"
"The pressures Mitch deals with have given me some perspective about my game"
Tell us about the game itself. You were dropped early in your innings and then you made that count. You also spoke about how India's celebrations spurred you on. Can you describe that evening for us?
It was just sort of a surreal experience. Yes, it was a final, there was a lot of pressure, there was a lot of anxiety, a lot of nerves around that group. I remember batting all right, and Moons [Beth Mooney] batting really well, and then Meg [Lanning] coming out and playing a nice innings and that side of the game.
I just remember the moment, the feeling, the crowd. It was probably for the first time in that World Cup that we felt the crowd was purely on our side. The first game we played against India, in Sydney, it was basically everyone cheering for India. Our home World Cup, first game, and the Indian supporters were louder than ours! So for the first time [in the final] maybe more than half the crowd was supporting us. And we really felt that. You know you are in the game or you are ahead of the game when the Indian fans are quiet.
It was borderline a perfect game for us. To be able to produce that on the world stage was, in a big final like that, very impressive.
It was also International Women's Day, the day of the final. Can you tell us about a few days before that, when you did something to enter the Guinness Book of World Records?
That was just before the World Cup started. They approached me about catching the highest cricket ball or whatever the terminology was. I often laugh about it because the people that know me the best know that I hate the high ball, especially at the MCG. So the fact that I went and did that was pretty amazing. It was actually one of the coolest experiences that I've had. I felt like that was probably more high pressure than the World Cup itself! It got everyone together. And if I hadn't achieved it, it would have been for nothing. So to get it done was good.
Australia Women filled the G for the 2020 final, which Healy says was "probably the highest point of pressure and expectation" in her cricket career. She made a match-winning 75 off 39 balls
Ryan Pierse / © Getty Images
Australia Women filled the G for the 2020 final, which Healy says was "probably the highest point of pressure and expectation" in her cricket career. She made a match-winning 75 off 39 balls Ryan Pierse / © Getty Images
It was some 64 metres high, right?
Yeah, it was close to the height of the light tower. So if you've been to the MCG, you'll see how high that is. That's as far as we could go. We actually weren't allowed to go any further than that for some reason. And I might have broken a finger, so we're probably lucky!
You have called the final perhaps one of the biggest moments of your life. All of you danced with Katy Perry after the final. Did you talk to her?
That was a bizarre moment in our careers. A bit of showbiz, it was sort of a concert. I kind of loved that: it was like representing women on that day, and to have someone as fierce as Katy Perry there, wanting to support it… She probably had no idea about cricket but just wanted to be a part of the event as a whole. It was amazing.
No one really got to speak to her. Meg Lanning got to hug her and it's probably the highlight of her career! So that was pretty cool. She just congratulated us and wished us all the best before she was whisked away. That was an amazing experience. It just felt like a really empowering day and a really empowering moment for women in sport and also just women in general.
You yourself are a hero and an idol for many, cricketers included. Have you ever reflected upon how far you have come when you talk about that tournament with your family and team-mates?
Definitely, throughout moments of that day and that night. Actually, even the day before, just walking around Melbourne, seeing the buzz, I ran into so many people who had coached me, who I'd played with, played internationally against, that wanted to stay and experience that day as well. I just thought to myself, I've been playing for Australia now for over 12 years, and just how far the game has come in that short space of time and what can be achieved in the next 12 years is going to be amazing.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I'd be able to have a career [in cricket] or a decent future in it. It was just something that I really enjoyed"
Phil Walter / © Getty Images
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I'd be able to have a career [in cricket] or a decent future in it. It was just something that I really enjoyed" Phil Walter / © Getty Images
Just standing there on the field, I distinctly remember a moment looking over at, I think it was Jess Jonassen, and when all the lights were out and everyone had their little phone lights going and it was 87,000 little phone lights in the crowd. And this is the back end of the game, where we kind of knew that we were about to win. And I distinctly remember looking across and everyone was just sort of in awe of the experience and just how far the game had come and how many people just wanted to be there and experience that moment.
We reflect on that quite a lot as a group and what sort of role we have played in helping shape that as well. Us as a side, we are really conscious about having a real global impact and helping drive the game of women's cricket right around the world, not just in Australia but right around the world. And here I am sitting in Mumbai, getting the opportunity to play against India in a bilateral T20 series, where we had 47,000 people at the game the other night. So we are aware of how far things have come, and yes, we're grateful for the opportunities to do that. But we are also conscious of where we can push it next as well.
Can you take us back to seven-year-old Alyssa Healy, who hated it when her dad picked her up from the sandpit and made her play cricket?
I was like every other young kid in Australia: we played every sport under the sun. We were outside all the time. We played a lot of backyard cricket. I grew up with a family down the road that had three boys and I used to play backyard cricket with them all the time. At that point I didn't necessarily want to play cricket. It wasn't a thing. Like, I was the only girl around. And I just wanted to be in the sunshine and play in the sandpit evidently. But dad was the one who put me back into the skills and said, "Oh just give it a go and see how you go."
I just always really enjoyed the game from a social aspect. I really enjoyed the fact you had ten other team-mates on the field with you, you are out there, you are playing in a large group of people. And in the summertime you spent every Saturday morning playing with the same group of people. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I'd be able to have a career in it or a decent future in it. It was just something that I really enjoyed.
I always wanted to play hockey or something for Australia. But evidently cricket was just always there and I was getting picked in sides and getting opportunities. I'm grateful that dad kept me in the game when I was seven and gave me the opportunity to go and play cricket, because being a female at that point in time, it wasn't really a great option. No one really knew that there was an Australian team or a New South Wales team. So the fact that there's multiple opportunities like that now for young girls to see those pathways has been really cool to see.
Can you talk about your club cricket days, when you met Mitch [Starc] and Ellyse Perry?
Mitch and I actually played representative cricket together. I played for Carlingford Waratahs in Sydney and Mitch played for Berala. We played against one another in club cricket and then we came together for Northern Districts and played rep cricket on Sundays together at that age. Ellyse Perry was in the same rep team but a year below. We have known one another for a long time, I think, the three of us. Also, Mitch and myself, we shared the wicketkeeping for the first four years of that rep journey. He was a wicketkeeper until he learned that he was growing and could bowl left-arm fast. It's kind of a unique story. Pez [Perry] and I were sort of the only two girls in that competition and thoroughly enjoying ourselves and not really realising where we could take our game.
You have spoken about the game at Bankstown between Australia and New Zealand that spurred your ambition. Could you tell us about that moment and what changed that day for you?
When I was growing up, all I really saw was the men playing on the TV. And that was all we really knew. My uncle Ian was playing for Australia as well. I don't think I was really completely aware that Australia had a women's team, and the amazing things that they were doing, you never really heard anything about it. I got the opportunity one day to go down to Bankstown Oval - dad took me along. I ended up going up into the change rooms and meeting a few of the players and they signed a poster for me.
I remember watching the game for a bit and Julia Price, who was the wicketkeeper at the time, took an absolute hanger in front of first slip. And I thought for the first time, "Ah, this is really cool." Like, we have a women's team that played for Australia. And they are all really good. This is a really exciting thing. Maybe I could do that one day." At the time that was a really eye-opening experience for me.
At the team anthems before the 2020 final. "I just always really enjoyed the game from a social aspect. I really enjoyed the fact you had ten other team-mates on the field with you"
Ryan Pierse / © Getty Images
At the team anthems before the 2020 final. "I just always really enjoyed the game from a social aspect. I really enjoyed the fact you had ten other team-mates on the field with you" Ryan Pierse / © Getty Images
Talking about Ellyse Perry - do you think she is the GOAT right now?
Ooh. That's really hard to say. Because I think I've been privileged to play with probably some of the best players that will ever play the game. I mean, you look at Meg Lanning's stats. I've also got the opportunity to play with Lisa Sthalekar and players like that in the generation before us. So that's a really hard one to answer. Ellyse will probably go down as one of the greatest players that we have seen in our game, but I think there's quite a few of those at the moment that are sort of creating their own path. I don't want to diminish anybody else's GOAT status by naming one, so I'm going to leave it wide open.
What has Perry taught you that has helped you in your game?
Pez and I - our career paths have been very different. She came into the game at a young age and had a really immediate impact. She's always the ultimate professional around training, around preparation, and getting herself in the best possible condition to perform at her best. That's something that everybody learns from Pez. Whether it be the first time in the group or touring with her for ten years, you still get that vibe from her. That's probably something I've managed to learn over time and utilise a little bit more.
Her resilience is also an incredible asset that I think is underrated. She's been playing for a very long time, she's had not a lot of injuries, she has managed to handle being an allrounder and being a key allrounder in the Australian team for a long period of time. Her resilience is something that everyone can learn from.
Let's talk about the World Cup final last year. You broke so many records that day. But the way it started was interesting - Australia were 37 for 0 at the ten-over mark. You reached your century in the 34th over, when Australia were 187. In the next 15 overs or so, Australia nearly doubled that score. Did you pinch yourself about the rate you were scoring at?
I feel like it happens - when you cross a milestone off, the next part of the batting phase is a little bit of fun. You have earned the right to take the game on and enjoy yourself out there. We still had a heap of batting left in the sheds and we wanted to put a total out there that was going to be defendable. It brought some T20 cricket back into the game.
Healy on Ellyse Perry, who she came up in cricket with: "She's always the ultimate professional around training, around preparation, and getting herself in the best possible condition to perform at her best"
Chris Hyde / © Cricket Australia/Getty Images
Healy on Ellyse Perry, who she came up in cricket with: "She's always the ultimate professional around training, around preparation, and getting herself in the best possible condition to perform at her best" Chris Hyde / © Cricket Australia/Getty Images
For me, it was a real tick to know that I really put a lot of hard work into preparing and, I guess, mentally being able to build an innings.
We identified that England's new-ball attack is one of the best in the world and if we could limit their damage in the first ten overs, we would be able to cash in. The way that we were able to set up that innings - yes, we were probably not going at a rate that we would have been super stoked with, but at the same time, we didn't lose a wicket in that first ten, and that enabled us the opportunity to build a big total. For me that was a really cool moment to know that the hard work and the preparation had paid off. And then I could just enjoy myself at the back end of the innings and try and put as many runs on the board as quickly as we could.
Recently Ishan Kishan, the Indian opener, hit a double-century in about 130 balls.
Yeah, I watched that, it was amazing. I have never seen someone just completely trust their bat swing as much as he did in that game, and just know that if the ball was in his zone, he was going to hit it for six. I have never seen striking as clean as that for a long time. That was really cool to watch. I happened to have the day off and I was watching. It was awesome.
Not just "crash and bash". Healy can smash it with the best of them, but she thinks her game is more about timing than brute strength
© Getty Images
Not just "crash and bash". Healy can smash it with the best of them, but she thinks her game is more about timing than brute strength © Getty Images
Kishan said that at one point he thought he could even go for the triple. Going back to that World Cup final in Christchurch - did you think that you could go for the double-century?
I blame Beth Mooney, because she actually said to me, probably the over just before I got out, she said, "Holy hell, me! You could probably get 200 here if you wanted." It was the first time I looked at what score I was on because that had not even crossed my mind. It was just, "Righto, which ball's going to the boundary?" I blame her that all of a sudden, it shocked me, kind of, what score I was on and what I was doing, that it maybe got me out.
But no, I think I was too tired by the end of it to do that. I can't hit 95-metre sixes like Ishan Kishan could, to be able to get there quick enough. So I would have had to run a bit more than he did.
There have been two double-centuries in women's ODIs. Do you think there will be more soon, given the power-hitting skills of the young players especially?
I think so. And the fact that we still only have four players out of the ring - that enables more boundaries to come into play, which means there's still opportunities for you to hit boundaries at the back end quite comfortably. And the way that the power has come into the women's game, with the boundary sizes at the moment, people can still clear the boundary if they want to. It's a free swing and a free hit, basically.
Look at the Indian players in this series in particular, the way that if you bowl in in the slot, they are hitting it for six, and it's a comfortable six, it's not just going over the fielder. So there's that much power in the game.
Good on yer, girl: Healy's team-mates applaud as she walks off the field after her monumental innings in last year's World Cup final
Phil Walter / © ICC/Getty Images
Good on yer, girl: Healy's team-mates applaud as she walks off the field after her monumental innings in last year's World Cup final Phil Walter / © ICC/Getty Images
There were double-hundreds before in cricket when it wasn't full-time professional. So knowing now that the game is fully professional most of the way around the world, it's going to become the norm, but the bowling also gets better, so it might not be just as simple as that.
How do you practise power-hitting? What are the things you work on?
For me, my power game isn't crash and bash. It's not me swinging the bat any harder than I usually do. I'm a bit more of a timer of the ball. So, firstly, you have got to work out how it looks for you.
A big part of the game - and this comes with professionalism of the game - is strength. And that's come into the game quite a lot. We are afforded the opportunity to train outside of the game a bit more, whether that be in the gym or on the running track, to get ourselves in a position that we are strong enough to clear that boundary quite regularly. Obviously, the flip side of that is your technique and how you are going to clear the boundaries. So there's two sides of it.
I look at the Indian team at the moment - someone like Richa Ghosh, who really uses a powerful base to allow her hands to swing through the ball, and then she just uses brute force to hit boundaries, compared to someone like Harmanpreet Kaur or Smriti Mandhana, who really just hit through the line of the ball and time it but can still clear the boundary easily. Yeah, there's different elements to power-hitting, as you like to call it, but it's probably just giving yourself a good-enough strength base and then a base technically that you are able to free your hands and hit cleanly through the line of the ball.
If anybody watched you in those two finals, it didn't seem like those were timed shots - they seemed to be hit with brute force. How do you differentiate between just timing a six and the power game?
I look in particular at where I'm hitting my sixes. My sixes aren't going over cow corner, they are not a slog sweep or a mow across the line. They are probably more straight down the ground. If I try and overhit the ball, I end up coughing it to sort of mid-on and mid-off because I lose the shape of my swing. I like to hit over the off side too. So that's a bit more of a timing shot rather than a real stand-there-and-whack-it, if that makes sense.
With increased professionalism in the women's game comes increasing emphasis on training and greater opportunity and more methods to train
Albert Perez / © Getty Images
With increased professionalism in the women's game comes increasing emphasis on training and greater opportunity and more methods to train Albert Perez / © Getty Images
Whereas some other real big power-hitters in the game just sort of use their brute force. You look at someone like Grace Harris for Australia at the moment. She's a real power-hitter and she just stands still, uses her base, uses her strength, gets everything behind the ball and just hits it so clean. It's just sort of understanding who you are as a cricketer and who you are as a batter, and what's going to work for you, whether it is that brute force or whether it is more of a timing aspect.
In the year or so leading up to the semi-final of the World Cup last year, you got fifties but no centuries. Did that affect your confidence? And what was your mindset like in the lead-up to the semi-final and the final?
I'm going to ruin your question here and say: absolutely nothing! It's an interesting question you asked, because I feel like naturally the aggressive way that I play, I tend to get out a lot in the 60s. Sixties are like my danger period, it's almost like I'm feeling a little bit free and I'm going to take a risk that I probably shouldn't.
It was probably for me the same way in that semi-final. Rachael Haynes actually looked at me and said, "Knuckle down, you should go on win this" sort of thing. I remember having that talk with her out in the middle. I've always struggled to find that balance of taking appropriate risks at the right time and still keeping the game moving along. I have worked really hard on finding that balance, keeping the mindset of "Okay, the longer that I actually bat out here, the easier it's going to be for everybody else coming in, and the bigger total that we are going to have. So don't throw it away. Give yourself an opportunity."
What's your favourite shot?
I love the pull shot. That's probably one of my favourites because you can play it just so many different ways. But I also like to step to the leg side and hit it through the off side. So either the lofted cover drive or the pull shot.
Healy has been dismissed four times in T20Is by Renuka Singh. "It's more her lengths than anything else, which challenges both sides of the bat"
Pankaj Nangia / © Getty Images
Healy has been dismissed four times in T20Is by Renuka Singh. "It's more her lengths than anything else, which challenges both sides of the bat" Pankaj Nangia / © Getty Images
Has anybody ever told you your pull is a bit like Jos Buttler's?
I'll take that, that's flattering!
Have you ever had the opportunity to talk cricket with him?
No, we haven't really crossed paths a whole heap. But I could potentially see some similarities there. I think he played hockey as well. And I played a lot of hockey when I was growing up. He obviously probably plays cross-bat shots a lot better than me. But yeah, probably the way that we hit down the ground is quite similar.
The women's and the men's game have gone their separate ways, which is a good thing for our game, given the women's game a bit more of their own standing. But [that means] you lose that opportunity to mingle with the guys that have been doing it for a long time. Having opportunities like the women's IPL or the Hundred, or the Big Bash and being able to cross paths with some of the best T20 players in the world is a really good thing for both games to just talk about how people do it.
Is there a stroke that you have not yet confidently played but want to introduce into your batting?
Oooh, I hadn't even thought about that! I'm not too sure. I wouldn't say I'm completely comfortable with playing behind the wicket, so the paddles or the scoopy sorts of shots would be where I'm least comfortable. But in saying that, I still try and play them, so it's not really a concern.
Comes from hockey: Healy didn't play the sweep much but realised that it made sense given her background and brought it into her game
Darren Staples / © AFP/Getty Images
Comes from hockey: Healy didn't play the sweep much but realised that it made sense given her background and brought it into her game Darren Staples / © AFP/Getty Images
You have spoken about bringing the sweep shot into your armoury, having used it in the World Cup in 2022. How did you go about getting it into your repertoire?
It actually changed for me in the 2017 World Cup in the UK. I remember we played against England and we lost on like the last ball in the round game and that meant we were playing India in the semi and we all know what happened there.
But I distinctly remember Danielle Hazell, who now ironically coaches me at the [Northern] Superchargers [in the Hundred] was coming around the wicket bowling offspin up my legs and square leg was up. In my mind, I really didn't have many options, and I remember running down and trying to flick it and I got out lbw or something. At that moment I thought, "That's not good enough. How can I not back myself to get the ball to that square-leg boundary? I need to do something about that."
Then I worked really, really hard on a sweep shot. It had never really been part of my batting, because I was really strong down the ground - all straight bat, cut and pull. I'd hit down the ground a lot more than behind the wicket. It didn't make sense to me, because like I said, I played hockey my whole life. And for me, that's a really natural bat shape for me to swing [the bat] and play a sweep shot or reverse sweep because I've done that my whole life playing hockey. So it came really naturally to me and I found a way to bring it in.
I remember using it for the first time probably against New Zealand in a series [in 2019], against Amelia Kerr. It was the first time that I had another option to her, and all of a sudden the opposition had to think about putting a square leg back for me and that brought up one of my strengths and I could use my feet to get over the infield over mid-off or cover.
That was where it started for me. I've really just tried to enable myself to hit 360 around the ground, because, like I said, we can only have four fielders out. So if you can hit that fifth pocket more regularly and make the captain scratch their head about which field to use, the more you bring yourself into the game. That's been a real shift in the way that I think about it.
It was after the 2017 World Cup that you moved from being a middle-order batter to an opener. Can you tell us more about the conversation with the head coach then, Matthew Mott, about the change?
It was just a moment in my career that that sort of changed things for me. I'd had opportunities at the top of the order before but I'd never really cashed in - it was [more] like the last game of the series or getting an opportunity randomly. For Motty to sit down with me and say, "Look, we are going to shake things up a little bit and change the way that we are looking at one-day cricket, and we want to be a little bit more aggressive and you are going to be the person to help us do that and you are going to bat at the top of the order and we are going to back you to do that and we think you are our long-term option." For me, it was probably the first time in my career that I had a role. I had a purpose. And I felt backed by coach and captain to just go out there and play the way that I had played my whole life.
For me it was an opportunity to work out how to do it and how to do it more consistently. It wasn't [about] going out there and trying to hit every ball for six: I remember the first game that I got the opportunity against England. I was opening the batting and I tried to hit Katherine Brunt over the top in about the third over and got caught. For me that was a great learning to go, "No, that's too much too soon. Just the way that you play naturally will lift the run rate and it's about hanging in there and giving yourself the opportunity to make big runs for the side."
In recent times the inswinger has been one of the deliveries that has got you dismissed - Shikha Pandey in 2021, Renuka Singh in 2022 are a couple of examples that come to mind. Would it be fair to say that inswing troubles you a bit more than other types of deliveries?
No, I don't think so. I have had my troubles against outswing as well - I used to nick off a little bit early on. No, I don't necessarily think it's that. You look at that ball that Shikha Pandey bowled to me is probably one of the most dramatic balls I have seen in T20 cricket. I mean, no one's getting anything on that at any point, so that's completely fine. Then I look at Renuka Singh - it's more her lengths than anything else. It's not so much the fact that it's coming in at me, it's the length that she's able to bowl consistently, which challenges both sides of the bat. They are world-class bowlers. A lot of new-ball bowlers around the world are highly skilful at what they do and they shape the ball quite a lot. That's the real challenge for us as opening batters. Yes, it's the most fun time to bat, the ball's hard and it pings off the bat, but also when the ball is doing the most amount of swing or shape or seam off the wicket, it's just about making sure you are technically really solid but also giving yourself an opportunity to score. And that's a really difficult balance to find.
So do you then consciously try to move to the off side to explore the on side with the angle to such deliveries, like we saw in the World Cup in 2022?
There's two ways you can approach it. You also have to remember that I'm quite strong through the off side. You can either sort of step to the off side and back your hands, bat through the line and play to that leg side, which is often where the fielders are. Or you go the other way and you bat on leg stump and you open up, let the ball swing as much as it possibly can and open up the off side and hit through your hands that way.
Healy with fans at the Hundred, where she played her first season for Northern Superchargers last year
© Getty Images
Healy with fans at the Hundred, where she played her first season for Northern Superchargers last year © Getty Images
I've probably utilised both of them at different times, depending on the bowler. If it's someone like Anya Shrubsole or Megan Schutt, I like to bat on off stump and back myself to be able to hit the ball down the ground, knowing that it's coming in. There's different ways that you can try and, I guess, just put the bowler off a little bit to get yourself ahead of the game. You've just got to keep evolving your game and trying to stay one step ahead of the skilful bowlers that are out there.
What would you say is a big change you have seen since you started playing cricket professionally that has helped women's cricket? And what is one change you want to see going forward?
One of the biggest changes I've seen in the game itself is just the athleticism of it. That has changed a few perceptions around the game, and also, it's changed the way the game's played. And that's purely come about by giving the players the opportunity to be full-time cricketers. We used to just train two hours of an evening after work or school or uni and get what we could out of those sessions, but now we're afforded the opportunity to work at our skills as much as we possibly want and we are given every resource to do just that. So I think that's changed a lot in the game.
One thing moving forward we'd like to see is, obviously there's a lot of investment going into the top level of the game, but for me, I think we need real investment in that next level underneath, and the domestic leagues around the world need proper support. This is where the women's IPL, the WBBL and the Hundred come into play. The international game's got flying at the moment and there's some really great stuff happening. But it's that next generation that really needs to be nurtured to make sure that they're even better than what we were, and I think proper investment in that grassroots level underneath the pathways is going to be really important.
Who are the players you are excited to see over the next decade?
We have got one in our squad in this trip in Phoebe Litchfield. That name is being thrown around a lot within Australian cricket, and I think we'll get to know her quite quickly in the international game, which is really exciting. I look at the Indian side and I look at someone like Richa Ghosh - I mean, what an unbelievable raw talent India have at such a young age. If they nurture her and look after her, she's going to be an unbelievable player for India for a long period of time.
With up-and-comer Phoebe Litchfield: "I think we'll get to know her quite quickly in the international game"
Pankaj Nangia / © Getty Images
With up-and-comer Phoebe Litchfield: "I think we'll get to know her quite quickly in the international game" Pankaj Nangia / © Getty Images
You look at the young players in our squad as well, even someone like Ash Gardner. She's only a baby when it comes to world cricket but she's experienced a lot already. So the impact that she could have over our game over the next ten years, it's also going to be really exciting
Having played in the Commonwealth Games last year, what is your view about cricket in the Olympics?
I fully support it. I mean, why not? There's a real growing cricket market in the US, with some really great, exciting initiatives going on. So you tap into that. I think they are looking at the [Los Angeles] Olympics in 2028, or even Brisbane . Yeah, why not give it an opportunity? We're not completely a global sport, but if we enable ourselves to try and open up those markets and tap into some untapped ones, why not?
We can't leave without talking about Mitch Starc. In the little time you get to spend together, do you talk cricket or not?
We do and we don't talk cricket. There's a time and place for that. Sometimes we kind of need to talk about it. And we need some advice or we need someone to vent to, or whatever it might be.
We find ourselves not really talking too much about cricket. I mean, it's basically our lives and we both do it on opposite sides of the world for a lot of it. But yeah, we try and spend our time away from the game when we are at home together. We are both competitive people and we love playing golf. So that kind of occupies our Instagram - you can follow all of that, the golf courses that we get to play out around the world, which we feel really lucky to be able to do.
How has he helped you deal with pressure? Because playing for the country is massive.
He's sort of probably enabled me a real perspective on some of the issues that I've had to deal with. Not saying they are not a big deal, but I don't really have to live in the public eye to the high level of scrutiny that Mitch has had to deal with throughout his career, and the negativity that often surrounds him, where every summer there's always conjecture about whether he's playing or whether he's not playing, that sort of stuff. That's kind of enabled me a perspective on it. Me getting out for first ball isn't such a bad thing - like, you know, I'm working really hard. And I'm trying to be the best I can. But I don't have someone telling me that I shouldn't be in the team every single time. So from that point of view, yeah, I think, perspective and also just the way that he goes about his business - he is the ultimate professional.
What she has that he doesn't: Healy shows off her Commonwealth Games gold medal with husband Mitchell Starc
Ryan Pierse / © Getty Images
What she has that he doesn't: Healy shows off her Commonwealth Games gold medal with husband Mitchell Starc Ryan Pierse / © Getty Images
The women's cricket cycle is getting busier now - there are more leagues, more bilateral cricket in the women's FTP. At some point you might have to draw the line about what to play and what not to play. How do you deal with it? Do the two of you talk about these things?
We have spoken about it a bit and I'm really lucky to have someone like Mitch, who is supportive. He kind of wants me to go and have these amazing experiences, because they are new in our [women's] game. He's experienced a number of those opportunities, but for me, it's brand new, and he's kind of encouraging me to go over and do it and be a part of these amazing new opportunities.
Have you ever faced him full tilt?
My answer to that generally is: would you willingly go down the other end of that net? Would you? No! So why would I want to do it?
Let me tell you as a right-hander, that ball swinging back at you, that's yucky. But I faced him one time. He was coming back from injury, just set the ball off a half run, and he needed a batter, so I willingly obliged. But it got a little bit too competitive and the ball started coming a little bit faster at me, so we had to say no more net sessions because we are too competitive. So no, we don't do that, thanks.
Would you say that is your biggest strength, being competitive? And is that how you deal with pressure
Yep, I think so. I often joke that, in particular outside of the game of cricket, I'm actually a really sore loser. I hate losing. I hate losing at cards at home, I hate losing at golf. I'm a bit better of a loser when it comes to cricket, I will say that. But I often say I refuse to apologise for being a sore loser till I finish playing elite sport because I think it drives you to be a competitive person and you want to do well for the team and you want to win games of cricket. And I think that's what has made our team so successful for a long period of time - winning those key little moments. Because we are competitive and we want to win those moments. So yeah, being a sore loser isn't a great thing, but I guess it has its perks.
You are going to play your seventh T20 World Cup soon.
Oh, really? That's a lot. Wow. Okay. That's a lot.
"I hate losing. I hate losing at cards at home, I hate losing at golf"
Pankaj Nangia / © Getty Images
"I hate losing. I hate losing at cards at home, I hate losing at golf" Pankaj Nangia / © Getty Images
Well, you've aged well.
Thank you very much. I'll take that!
What's the goal there, other than winning, of course?
It's just about winning. We haven't toured South Africa either. We have never actually been over there to play any cricket. So it's going to be a really new experience for our group. The issue that we have as a side is, we've been so successful for so long that you don't want to be the side to not win. It's almost like a near negative.
Even look at the narrative around when India won the other night in this series, it was like, "Oh, my God, [Australia] finally lost a game."
Well, it is actually one of the hardest formats in the world to play and be consistent. And the fact that we've been doing it for so long is beyond belief. So that kind of spurs us on as a group. So yes, winning the World Cup will be a really big key for us, but also, for me personally, it's just about trying to find a consistent feel in the game and a consistent performance in T20 cricket. It's something that I'm working really hard at doing and hasn't quite paid off yet. But I'm working really hard at finding a bit of a blueprint that I can use to go out there and consistently perform.
Yeah, and win games for Australia. That's kind of what I wanted to do.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo. S Sudarshahan is a sub-editor
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