The World Cup 2017 Has Been A Revelation For Australia - Alyssa Healy > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - The 2017 World Cup was an eye opener for Australia - Alyssa Healy
"It didn't surprise me too much," Alyssa Healy says nonchalantly, as if to further emphasise the ease with which Australia beat England and retained the Women's Ashes for a third consecutive series.
"I knew that we were going to come out hard and come out firing and put them on the back foot early, so it didn't surprise me a whole heap. But to be in a position to almost whitewash, I think it surprised me a little bit more."
Australia eventually finished 12-4 winners, the joint-biggest margin since the introduction of the multi-format Ashes series. Along the way they broke records and English hearts alike. Meg Lanning made history by hitting the highest score in women's T20 internationals, smashing an unbeaten 133 to end England's perfect home record at 'Fortress Chelmsford'. Meanwhile Ellyse Perry become the first player, male or female, to take 100 wickets and score 1,000 runs in T20 internationals. And England boss Mark Robinson would be let go not long after the series concluded.
The comprehensive victory in England signalled a highpoint in a remarkable improvement in fortunes for Australia. Their last visit, two years previous, left them downtrodden following a shock World Cup semi-final loss to India. They expected to head home as champions. Instead they returned to a review of their failings by then general manager, Pat Howard.
"The 2017 World Cup was a really eye opening experience for us," Healy acknowledges, recognising its importance as the turning point for the national team. In the space of two years, Australia had lost both their 50-over and 20-over World Cup crowns. Once perceived as unstoppable, talk rapidly changed from creating a dynasty to redesigning their regime.
"We thought we were going better than what we actually were, and it was a good reality check for us to go back and see what we were doing as a squad ourselves and also as a system as a whole in Australia and what we could do better."
A few weeks after arriving back in Australia, head coach Matthew Mott gathered his squad in preparation for the 2017 Ashes. Turning the lights down low, the horrors of Harmanpreet Kaur's 171-run annihilation of Australia were played out again in high definition. The spectre of defeat looming over the side needed to be exorcised. Tears were shed and bruising honesty dished out by players fighting to revitalise their team. Working through the shared heartache brought them together and peace was made with the disappointing results.
"We played too safe to an extent," Healy says of Australia's previous game plan. "We've got some unbelievably world-class players in our side and I think we got caught on the back foot a little. It was such a great time to have a reality check and really assess where we were at, and we came out firing after that and won a lot of games of cricket and played the style of cricket that I think we always talked about playing but hadn't really done."
Australia's win count since then - 31 victories out of 40 competitive fixtures - indicates the alterations made are having a lasting effect. Their top-three highest T20 innings totals have come during that period, two of them against England. This is not a side simply possessing the means to demolish smaller teams, but one capable of taking apart their nearest rivals too.
Is Healy confident they can maintain that domination this time? "We've got a really good team, we've got a really good environment in our squad at the moment and the best part about it is there are no egos. Everybody knows their role and they play that role perfectly, and that's what's made us successful over the last 12-18 months. If we continue doing that I think we're going to be really solid for a long period of time."
Central to that success has been the imperious Healy. Offered a permanent role as an opener by Mott as part of the post World Cup reshuffle. A lack of runs in the first 10 overs was causing concern. Opposition bowlers were being allowed to settle, thus increasing the pressure on Australia's middle order. The country was about to embark on a new attacking way of playing. And Mott wanted Healy to lead the charge. She was given a mandate to be aggressive with the bat.
After featuring everywhere from 1 to 9 since her 2010 debut, Healy finally found stability and a chance to prove herself without fear of recrimination. "Having that confidence and that knowledge that I'm going to be opening the batting and I'm going to be backed there no matter what I think has given me the confidence to go out and play my cricket."
Her determination, forged through trying times, was now being rewarded. In 2018, Healy scored her first international century, going on to be the T20 WC leading run-scorer and player of the tournament, as she helped Australia reclaim silverware at the first possible opportunity. From scoring less than 20 per match pre-2017 Ashes, her form after promotion up the order saw her average 47.85 in ODIs and 40.44 in T20Is.
Extensive work to perfect a sweep shot as well as an increase to the handspeed when striking the ball opened up more areas for her to score in. "I'm probably more deliberate and more planned about the way I go about my cricket," Healy says. "I know what I can and can't do now I think I don't try as much, I don't try some things that I know I can't achieve or I know I can't play in the game. I think that comes with maturity and being really planned and knowing when I go out to bat and where I can score in my areas and which bowlers I can take on."
Despite Australia preparing for their first ever white-ball series in the West Indies, which gets under way on Thursday, they know the conditions well after regaining the WT20 trophy there last November. Six months out from Australia hosting the re-titled T20 WC, they will be aiming to maintain their winning form. Once again, Healy will be the team's galvanising force.
"I really love winning, I'm not a good loser. I hate losing. It's just one of those things naturally as a wicket keeper in Australia you're normally up and about you're normally quite chirpy. We actually do have quite a quiet Australian team so for me it's actually really important that role behind the stumps, and me getting the group up and about, that's my role for the team and I like to do that and stay involved in the game."
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