Satisfied Healy looks to new subcontinental challenges

With some outstanding youngsters gaining experience in foreign conditions, the skippers is feeling positive about the next couple of major tournaments

Healy, Sutherland star as Aussies clinch T20 decider

On Christmas Eve in the immediate aftermath of Australia's eight-wicket Test defeat to India, Alyssa Healy was asked if the result indicated her team's era of dominance was over. 

Healy dismissed the question, saying people should judge Australia at the end of the month-long tour, with the six white-ball games to provide a true marker of where the world's top-ranked team stands.

Two-and-a-half weeks later, Australia will depart India with two white-ball trophies, after winning the ODI series 3-0 and the T20Is 2-1.

Two of those one-day wins were thrashings, the third a thriller.

India were dominant in the first T20I in their nine-wicket victory, before Australia hit back with consecutive wins – the second of which was a comfortable chase of 148.

"I'm just really, really proud of this group of people," Healy said after the game. "We're here in India over a month that we're traditionally at home spending time with our families, and it's the first time we've been away at this time of year and literally the girls have just jumped in and played some good hard cricket – I didn't hear one complaint, I didn't hear one whinge, they just genuinely enjoyed one another's company and enjoy being here in India. 

"I think the month that we've been here we played two-and-a-half bad days of cricket, that was it – one-and-a-half days in the Test match and one T20. I'm really proud of the group for that and hopefully we can have a really successful 2024 off the back of it."

This tour of India did not employ an overall points system as seen in the multi-format Ashes, or in the last all-format series between Australia and India in 2021.

But if the tourists kept their own count, they could be satisfied to have finished on top 10 points to six, and having won two of the three legs, and five of seven matches overall.

Perhaps more important in the medium-term, with T20 and ODI World Cups to be held in the subcontinent across the next 18 months, were the standout performers. 

Phoebe Litchfield enjoyed a breakout tour in the white-ball formats, named Player of the ODI Series after scoring 266 runs in three innings including her second international century.

She followed up with knocks of 49, 17no and 18no batting in the middle-order in the T20Is.

Annabel Sutherland likewise produced back-to-back standout matches with the ball, with figures of 2-18 and 2-12, in the final two T20Is, while leg-spinner Georgia Wareham also impressed with five wickets across the three games.

Healy was named player of the T20I series after knocks of eight, 26 and 55, but the 33-year-old was adamant in saying she believed the honour belonged to Litchfield. 

"I remember when I was that fearless, when you come out and you've lost two wickets in an over and play a ramp over the 'keeper's head for four," she said of Litchfield.

"Unbelievable talent but at the same time, she's got a really good head on her shoulders and she's fitted in beautifully in our squad and I think will play a really key role for us with the Bangladesh T20 World Cup, but also in the ODI World Cup in these conditions in the next 18 months. 

"She's great to watch and hopefully she's going to have a long and successful career for Australia."

Litchfield's dream series continues with glittering hundred

Australia will defend their T20 World Cup crown in Bangladesh in September, while the next ODI World Cup will be played in India in mid-2025.

Healy said there were improvements still to be made in both formats, but she was pleased with how the group was progressing as they enter the post-Lanning era.

"I think we've gained some valuable information," she said. "At the same time there's probably some areas where we can improve and some areas that we're nailing at the moment, which I'm really proud of, but some areas that we can focus on in the next 12 months that are going to make us successful in tournament play. 

"It's pretty cutthroat when you come into a World Cup, you've got to win games and you've got to get yourselves over the line and I think we're going to have a squad to do it, it's just nailing down our plans and our shot selection, more importantly, over here."

Australia's CommBank Tour of India

Test match: India won by eight wickets

First ODI: Australia won by six wickets

Second ODI: Australia won by three runs

Third ODI: Australia won by 190 runs

First T20I: India won by nine wickets

Second T20I: Australia won by six wickets

January 9: Australia won by seven wickets

Australia squad: Alyssa Healy (c), Tahlia McGrath (vc), Darcie Brown, Heather Graham, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Grace Harris, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham

India T20 squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia, Richa Ghosh, Amanjot Kaur, Shreyanka Patil, Mannat Kashyap, Saika Ishaque, Renuka Singh, Titas Sadhu, Pooja Vastrakar, Kanika Ahuja, Minnu Mani