There’s not long to go now until the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars head to Sri Lanka to defend their T20 World Cup title.
One of the finalists for the ICC Women’s T20 Player of the Year, cricketnsw.com.au caught up with Lend Lease Breakers wicketkeeper-batter, Alyssa Healy, to see how she’s feeling before the big tournament.
It’s your second World Cup tournament – does it feel just as exciting as the first?
Yes - definitely just as exciting! Anytime you get to pack your Aussie kit, or get your new uniform for the tour, is always a thrill and this is no exception.
I have really been working hard leading into this World Cup as I have been in and out of the starting XI for the past few tours. I'm really keen to get an opportunity and cement a spot in the batting line up for future T20 games.
It is also pretty exciting to head over to Sri Lanka to try and defend the title we won in the West Indies.
Do you think there is extra pressure on the Australian team as the defending champions?
No, not so much extra pressure. T20 is such a fickle game and it brings everyone in the world that little bit closer to the top teams, so it really comes down to who is the better team on the day.
We will just be going into the tournament planning to win all our games and obviously, if we can do that then we will lift the trophy again. We know it is going to be tough, especially with the pool that we have which includes England. I think that after the Quad Series games we might almost be underdogs heading over there which could be good for us!
You’ve batted in a few different positions for the Australian team during the recent series against New Zealand and India. Where do you prefer to bat?
I love to open the batting! I love the freedom you get to try and hit over the field early, and the hard new ball comes off that much sweeter! However, any opportunity I get in the bating line up I will take to try and win some games for Australia.
While in Sri Lanka the Southern Stars had matches against the U/19 boys’ teams, and also used them as net bowlers. How would you compare playing against these guys compared to playing against other women and how does this help you prepare for a World Cup?
I think it is really good to be able to face different bowlers in the nets, whether they are male or female. However, it was great to be able to face the boys as they were really passionate about cricket and were charging in, trying to get us out every ball. We all loved that challenge.
It’s a great experience for us to face quicker bowlers as it really tests our techniques and our mental game, and everyone in the team handled it really well. Just the different variation the boys get with extra pace and bounce is a good challenge for us and will help us improve as cricketers.
When it came to bowling to them, we actually dominated a little. It just shows that no matter what pace the ball is coming at, a good line and length is still effective and we were able to take wickets quite regularly.
You’ve decided to head to Dubai to watch Mitch (Starc) play. Was it a hard decision to make to go over given the close proximity to the World Cup, and how will you continue your preparation over there?
It was actually a really tough decision for me to make! Being so close to the World Cup I thought it might hinder my preparations, however, it is actually a great opportunity for me to go and train in different conditions.
I will definitely be taking my kit over and will be training the house down to make sure I am ready to go come mid-September. I have always made a lot of sacrifices in my private life to play cricket, so this is a great chance for me to support Mitch, but to also further my cricket!
Who do you rate as Australia’s biggest threats at this tournament and why?
Within our pool we have England and India, who are both pretty big threats when they are playing well. So we know we have to be on our game in all our round games to make sure we get through to the finals.
I think the West Indies are going to be a dark horse for the tournament. They have been playing some really good cricket of late and the form of Stefanie Taylor is second to none.
Having already been to Sri Lanka, is there anything in particular you’d like to do in your downtime when you go back for the World Cup?
We didn’t really get to do much exploring whilst we were there training, so I am looking forward to getting out and about and seeing Sri Lanka. I am really hoping we get some time off to get to the Elephant orphanage - I have heard great things about it and would love to be up close to such amazing creatures.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 05 September, 2012 4:15PM AEST