Australia’s post-Meg Lanning era takes shape, with the experienced Alyssa Healy handed the full-time reins
Healy named Australia captain, McGrath handed deputy role
Alyssa Healy will lead a new era of the Australian women’s cricket team after being named Meg Lanning's permanent replacement as captain across all three formats.
Having already led Australia since June, in series against England, Ireland and West Indies, Healy has been officially handed the role full-time after Lanning called time on her international career last month.
Tahlia McGrath, fresh from leading the Adelaide Strikers to consecutive Weber WBBL titles, will serve as vice-captain, with the 28-year-old allrounder now positioned as the eventual successor when Healy hangs up the gloves.
McGrath is not without international leadership experience herself, having twice led the side during the past 12 months when Healy was unavailable.
Healy, 33, takes over with almost 14 years of international experience under her belt, in stark contrast to Lanning’s appointment in 2014 aged 21.
The Victorian oversaw an unprecedented period of success, leading Australia to five World Cup titles and Commonwealth Games gold during her 182 matches as captain.
Lanning’s level of success as captain and indelible imprint on the game in Australia has left a sizeable hole, but Healy said she was looking forward to leading the team through a period of transition.
"I am honoured to accept the role of captain and am grateful for the opportunity to lead our team," she said.
"I've really enjoyed the support of the players over the past few months and their encouragement to continue to be who I am and lead the group like I normally would from within.
"My approach will remain consistent to what it has been previously, but I’ll make my own mark on the role and be sure that I'm doing the best I possibly can for this group to maintain the success that we've had.
"It's an exciting time to be involved with this team, we’re seeing the emergence of incredible young talent and are challenging ourselves to continually evolve as a group."
No stranger to leadership roles, Healy has captained NSW in the Women’s National Cricket League since 2018 and was the Sydney Sixers vice-captain for the first seven WBBL seasons.
Appointed Australia’s vice-captain in October 2022 following the retirement of Rachael Haynes, the destructive keeper-batter was soon thrust into the role of stand-in skipper when Lanning remained on personal leave for a tour of India just two months later.
Australia went on to win that T20 series 4-1 in a period that gave Healy the belief that, while possessing a different leadership style to Lanning, she was capable of excelling in the role.
"I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and I'm really lucky that (India tour) happened to give me an opportunity to get a taste of it and to also leave a little bit of a mark on the group," Healy told cricket.com.au earlier this year.
"I'm obviously very different to Meg, I'm not her, I'm a very different style of leader as well … Meg is really good at leading from the front and really pulling everyone along with her.
"I tend to lead from within and really give everyone the confidence that they are good enough, and what they're bringing is going to do the job. And that's something I really enjoy doing."
Under Healy Australia retained the Ashes this year, however lost both the T20I and ODI legs 2-1 to a resurgent England as the points-based series ended 8-8.
Both England and India have shown signs of closing the gap with Australia’s all-conquering side in recent years, and Healy is now tasked with nurturing an impressive list of rising stars – including Phoebe Litchfield, Darcie Brown and Annabel Sutherland – to ensure continued success.
Australia’s first major assignment under Healy will be the 2024 T20 World Cup, to be staged in Bangladesh, next September-October.
McGrath said her appointment as vice-captain was a "privilege", and looked forward to working alongside her more senior teammate.
"Alyssa and I have played together for a long time, we know our respective leadership styles well and I look forward to helping her lead our group as we embark on a busy, but exciting international schedule," she said.
A 16-player Australia squad flies to Mumbai on Wednesday for an upcoming multi-format series against India, commencing with a sole Test match from December 21, before three ODIs and three T20Is to follow.
Should Healy prove her fitness, the highly anticipated red-ball clash would represent the first competitive match she has played since the Weber WBBL|09 season opener.
After the Sydney Sixers’ defeat to the Melbourne Stars in that match, Healy suffered a bite to her right index finger in an incident involving her two Staffordshire bull terriers and later required surgery, ruling her out of the tournament.
She remained confident, however, of playing the series opener at the famous Wankhede Stadium.
India have not hosted a women’s Test on home soil since 2014, but will also play England in a four-day match just days prior (from December 14) to hosting the Aussies.
Harmanpreet Kaur’s side last played a Test in October 2021, when they met Australia in a drawn pink-ball encounter on the Gold Coast.
Australia's multi-format tour of India
December 21-24: Test match, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
December 28: First ODI, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
December 30: Second ODI, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
January 2: Third ODI, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
January 5: First T20I, DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai
January 7: Second T20I, DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai
January 9: Third T20I, DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai
Australia squad: Darcie Brown, Lauren Cheatle (Test only), Heather Graham, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Grace Harris (T20s only), Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham
India Test squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Richa Ghosh (wk), Sneh Rana, Shubha Satheesh, Harleen Deol, Saika Ishaque, Renuka Singh Thakur, Titas Sadhu, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Pooja Vastrakar