Family values stand Alyssa Healy in good stead for women's Ashes series

时间:2019-08-15 责任编辑:屋庐跬 来源:合乐888手机网页版 点击:49 次

Australian women’s team wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy boasts cricketing bloodlines like few others. Father Greg was a Queensland squad member, uncle Ian is considered one of Australia’s all-time great glovemen while another uncle, Ken, also played Sheffield Shield cricket. And Healy’s cricketing bond has been further enhanced following her recent engagement to Australian Test fast bowler Mitchell Starc.

While much of the cricket world’s focus is currently on the five-Test battle for the Ashes, Australia’s women’s team are on their own quest in England. The Southern Stars, to use their marketing department-coined moniker, have been dominant in recent years. They have claimed three successive Twenty20 World Cup titles and are reigning 50-over world champions, becoming one of Australia’s premier female sporting teams in the process. There is, however, one unconquered hurdle. Like their male counterparts the Southern Stars are seeking to end a 14-year winless drought in England.

A key figure when the action commences on Tuesday in Taunton will be Healy. An energetic figure in the field, the 25-year-old is tidy with the gloves and more than handy with the bat, including a high-tempo scoring rate honed amid a plethora of international Twenty20 cricket over the past few years.

“We have won every World Cup in the past five years, but the Ashes is the one that us got away from us,” says Healy. “We have been building against the Poms in the past few series but they have played some really good cricket against us in those series, but with the group we have it will be a really competitive series.”

Healy has been playing international cricket since 2010, accruing 40-odd appearances in the shortened forms of the game. Yet she has played just a single Test, such is the paucity of five-day matches on offer in international women’s cricket. Indeed, Australia will have played just three Test matches over the past five years heading into next month’s lone five-day encounter at Canterbury. The Southern Stars may have less trouble adapting to local conditions given the familiar Kookaburra ball they will use, unlike the Dukes version used by their male equivalents.

“Every time we play a Test match it seems there are multiple debutants given the rare nature of the matches,” Healy said. “Test cricket is really exciting for us and something that we cherish. Growing up it was always your dream to play for Australia and wear the baggy green, so to have that opportunity especially in England is something very special for everyone. It is a unique place to play with picturesque grounds.”

Unique too for Healy will be the opportunity to play Test cricket in England at the same time as her fiancée Starc. Indeed Healy headed to England prior to her team-mates and took in the First Test in Cardiff as a spectator.

Quirkily the journey for both commenced at the same time when they were team-mates in the Under-10s. It was there she first met and played alongside Starc at the age of nine. They even shared wicketkeeping duties, becoming “pretty good friends”, only to lose contact for a few years in their mid-teens, before cricket again became the conduit for a five-year relationship.

“We don’t talk too much cricket,” Healy says of home life alongside Starc. “It invariably finds its way onto the TV here or there. We try and leave the cricket side to our coaches and team-mates when we are on tour, and when you get home it is nice to have somebody else to talk to [about cricket] away from the game. And maybe remind you why you play cricket when times get tough. Obviously we are in a pretty unique position. It is nice to have someone who understands what you are going through.”

Not that cricket is completely compartmentalised from daily life at home for the pair. “When Mitch was coming back from injury I put the pads on and faced him in the nets, but we don’t do that kind of thing too often,” Healy says with a broad smile that is rarely absent. “It is not my first choice to be down the other end when he is bowling, and I don’t think it is his first choice either. If we go down the park we would normally take a footy, or do something other than cricket related.

“To be able to watch one another compete in an Ashes series is pretty special. It would be great to both come home with a trophy.”

Uncle Ian was an ever-present behind the stumps for Australia during the team’s many successes throughout the 1990s. Healy held the world record for most Test dismissals until eventually passed by both his successor Adam Gilchrist and South African Mark Boucher. Though perhaps many will more likely recall his incessant “Bowled, Shane” from behind the stumps, as Shane Warne weaved his leg-spinning magic throughout the same decade.

Ian Healy’s Test career ended at almost exactly the same as his niece took to the field for the first time. It would seem obvious that young Alyssa took up the gloves due to the cricketing glory bestowed upon the family by her uncle. The truth, inevitably, is more complicated.

“Perhaps genetics came into it, but it [wicketkeeping] wasn’t my first choice, I always wanted to be a fast bowler,” says the Southern Stars keeper. “They probably saw my last name and threw the gloves at me. Playing Under-10s everyone had to have a go at wicketkeeping and I did OK. When the Under-12s keeper was away and I got the call up, enjoyed it, and it all went from there.

“I remember distinctly going down to the SCG and watching him [Ian] play,” says the Gold Coast-born, Sydney-raised Healy. “I don’t think I quite knew how big he was or how good he was. I leant over the fence yelling for him to come and say hello, which he couldn’t quite do given he was warming up for a Test match, though I didn’t quite get it at the time. It is nice now to sit back and watch some old games when they pop up on the TV, and being able to do that is pretty special.

“I’m lucky enough to have him at the other end of a phone call or text message if I need, but he always let me go about my business. But at the same time he keeps a close eye out for me and is ready to offer some advice if need be, and I definitely reach out to him as well.”