Alyssa Healy will trust her instincts as she looks to put an end to the run of low scores that has brought two years of prolific returns to a juddering halt just before the T20 World Cup.
Healy made scores of 9, 1, 0, 1, 4 in the tri-series against England and India – the first time she has made five single-digit scores in a row in T20Is – and followed that with 9 against South Africa in Australia’s final warm-up match before the tournament starts on Friday in Sydney when they face India.
The ragged start to her 2020 comes after two outstanding years . In 2018, she averaged 41.28 with a strike rate of 145.95, during which Australia won the previous T20 World Cup, and in 2019, where her average was 53.14 with a strike rate of 173.02, including the world record 148 not out against Sri Lanka.
Healy has been given the full backing to continue with a “high risk” style of play by coach Matthew Mott and captain Meg Lanning, who said she would be more worried if her opener started blocking, and Healy is confident the good times will return when it really matters.
“My mindset hasn’t changed and the messaging I’m getting from Meg, the coaching staff and selectors is not to change and just go out there and enjoy my cricket,” Healy said as the Australians arrived in Sydney on Wednesday ahead of the tournament opener. “It will come off at some point, and not at others. The last two years have been an unbelievable ride and hopefully I can maintain that.
“Honestly, I’ve been hitting the ball fine and haven’t been out there long enough to lose any form. From my point of view, it’s the fickle nature of cricket and especially the T20 format. I like to take the game on and sometimes you will get low scores. Hopefully come Friday I’ll get a little bit of luck, get a score on the board and put the team in a good position.”
Her spirit is intact, as she jokes that she isn’t the type who likes to watch her successful innings when the going gets tough. “Personally I hate watching myself bat because all I ever wanted to bat like was Ricky Ponting and it doesn’t look like him one bit,” she said. “I won’t go back and watch any footage, but I will run through mentally what was working for me then and prepare as well as I can.”
And when Ash Gardner explained that her No. 3 role was largely tactical depending on who got out first but that she has enjoyed her extended run in the position, Healy interjected: “I’m maxmising Ash’s deliveries at the minute, so you’re all welcome.”
Still, Healy’s poor run has been part of an Australia batting line-up that hasn’t really clicked in the build-up to the tournament. Beth Mooney has carried them at the top of the order – scoring 208 runs at 52.00 in the tri-series – with Gardner at No. 3 but they have needed a number of lower-order contributions. They stumbled to two defeats in the tri-series (one by a Super Over against England) before digging deep against India to take the final but there isn’t much room for error in the T20 World Cup. A mis-step in the opening match could leave them needing three wins from three matches to progress.
“It’s probably great that a lot of the sides are getting hits leading into the tournament,” Healy said. “The beauty of T20 is you only need one batter at a time to potentially win a game and it’s been a different person in each game over the last couple of weeks.”
Not that they mind the scrutiny of their form. In fact they are pleased with it. “We remarked on this on the bus on the way over, the amount of interest in how the squad is tracking from a form point of view is almost a bit unprecedented,” Ellyse Perry said. “I’ve been quite vocal about this, about pushing people to take more interest in how the team is playing and be more critical, analyse the game, because that shows they are interested and people care.
“I guess it’s Midge’s [Healy’s] turn in the spotlight a little at the moment but she’s been playing some really good cricket in the last 22 months and that just doesn’t flip on its head in a couple of weeks.
One advantage for Healy is that she has a second role in the team and her glovework has been sharp over the last few weeks.
“Seems to be everyone outside the group is panicking more than us. Handling all that, I think it’s fantastic that people are talking about us and the tournament. It means people care and want to see Australia do well. Of course, I’d like to make a few more runs but if I’m just contributing with the gloves then so be it.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.