New skipper Healy determined to empower young leaders

Alyssa Healy vows to empower other leaders within the Aussie squad, including her deputy Tahlia McGrath, after taking over the captaincy full-time

New Australia women's cricket captain Alyssa Healy has pledged to empower an emerging group of leaders within her dominant squad.

The 33-year-old officially replaced the retired Meg Lanning as the all-conquering side's full-time skipper on Saturday after standing in for almost a year as her predecessor had various periods away from the game for personal reasons.

Newly appointed vice-captain Tahlia McGrath, 28, looms as the obvious heir apparent after being handed the role of deputy, not least given the age of the squad's other leaders – allrounder Ellyse Perry is 33, Jess Jonassen 31 and Megan Schutt 30.

Lanning had captained the side since her appointment as a 21-year-old in 2014.

But Healy said part of her role was giving the next generation the freedom to lead within their squad and encouraging them to do so.

"Not just Tahlia, there's a great group of leaders in our group that haven't had the opportunities to lead a lot – especially in the domestic game, but also at the international level," Healy told reporters after her appointment was announced on Saturday. 

"And that's going to be a real key to how we drive things. It's about finding the next leaders in Australian cricket. 

"There's some outstanding ones that are quite senior in our group that are doing it quite consistently in domestic cricket and the WBBL. 

"So it's about finding that next rung of leaders and giving them the freedom to want to lead within our side, and encourage them to do so. That's part of my role."

'Lots of fun out there': Aussie century-makers review win

McGrath has already captained Australia – in a one-day international against Ireland in July – and has led the Adelaide Strikers to back-to-back Weber WBBL titles.

Other players in the squad also have captaincy experience at WBBL level – Heather Graham (27) stood in for Elyse Villani for Hobart Hurricanes during the recently concluded WBBL|09 season, as did Ashleigh Gardner (26) for Sydney Sixers skipper Ellyse Perry and Annabel Sutherland (22) for Lanning at the Melbourne Stars.

While Healy believes her style of leading from within will differ markedly from Lanning who was very good at leading from the front, she says she has already grown enormously in her 12 months standing in for the Victorian.

"The skills that I've learned, in particular over the last 12 months in doing it for the Australian side – my captaincy's changed in that 12 months," Healy said.

"I can't wait to see what it's going to do over the next couple of seasons and where it will take me. 

"I'd love to play some really good cricket and continue to contribute to this side on the field, but if I can help encourage the young players to do that just as well as what I can then I feel like I'm doing my job."

Healy and McGrath's appointments were ratified at a Cricket Australia board meeting on Friday and the wicketkeeper said the presentation process had reinforced her desire to become captain with two World Cups on the horizon, beginning with next year's T20 showpiece in Bangladesh.

Healy and McGrath during last year's T20 tour of India // Getty

"(It) probably just ratified things in my own head about, 'Yep, this is exactly what I want to do'. I want to help create a new legacy for this Australian team," Healy said.

"It sort of gave me an opportunity that, 'This is what I want to achieve. And this is where I'd like to take the group for a certain amount of time'.

"We can achieve great things in that time, but more so set it up for the next 10 years to be really successful."

Having certainty around leadership, with Healy and McGrath working alongside head coach Shelley Nitschke, will only help.

"We wanted Meg to come back, and we wanted Meg to lead the side," Healy said.

"But it was just sort of filling in while we could and also probably living series-to-series, which we identified that's not probably doing us any favours.

"We actually need to look long term and work towards World Cups and work towards big series and tournaments.

250 up: Best of Alyssa Healy in the green and gold

"Having a more permanent role and a bit more clarity around that, it gives all three of us … an opportunity to stamp our mark and get the group to where we want to, to hopefully hold up a trophy next year in Bangladesh."

Healy's reign will begin in earnest later this month after she declared herself a near-certain starter for the red-ball Test against India in Mumbai on December 21 after missing all bar the opening match of WBBL|09 with a bad finger injury.

"What I've learned from Meg over her leadership is how resilient she is, and also her ability to just pick up all of the team, put them on her shoulders and go, 'I'm going to go out there and win the game for my side'," Healy said.

Healy sporting a cast for her injured finger while supporting Sixers teammates in WBBL|09 // Getty

"That probably hasn't always been the way that I've played my career, and it's probably not been the way that I've led either.

"But if I can find some sort of middle ground in that regard, and go, 'You know what? It's my time to go out there and win the game or play the innings or take the catch', then I'm going to do that as a leader and hopefully show the others that we can do it."

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