Healy's new tricks ready to rock Ashes
Alyssa Healy used her player leave to hone her power-hitting skills ahead of Australia's Ashes campaign in the UK
8 May 2019, 02:18 PM AEST
If England are worried about how to stop the batting juggernaut that is Alyssa Healy this year, just wait until they hear what she’s been working on during her holidays.
When the in-form wicketkeeper-batter strides to the crease for Australia’s opening match of the Ashes in Leicester this July, she intends to hit the ball harder and further than ever before.
Not content after a golden year with the bat that saw Healy claim the Belinda Clark Award and named Australia’s ODI and T20I player of the year, she’s now working hard to add yet another string to her bow.
And while some of her national teammates opted against so much as glancing at a cricket bat or ball during their recent six-week break, Healy spent her ‘time off’ quietly working with batting mentor Ash Squire in Sydney, building her power game.
“I’m making a few technical changes with my batting at the moment to hopefully allow me to hit the ball harder and further than what I did over the last 12 months,” Healy told cricket.com.au.
“That seems to be working and seems to be coming off pretty well.”
An aggressive opener who isn’t afraid to go hard against opposition bowling attacks, Healy’s hard-hitting approach has generally involved more fours than sixes – in 159 matches across all formats for Australia, she’s cleared the rope on just 31 occasions.
It’s something the diminutive right-hander is determined to change as she looks to continue her standout form with the bat in the upcoming multi-format Ashes, which will see Australia play England in three ODIs, one Test and three T20Is in July.
“(It involves) little technical things with my hands and my hand speed coming to the ball,” Healy explained.
“I guess for us smaller athletes, having that hand speed is probably very important and will allow us to hit the ball a little bit further and harder than what we can.
“Luckily for me, I'm pretty solid and I’ve got a good base so if I could just get that right and my timing right, it will all fall into place.”
A recent extended break from the whirlwind that is touring life has given Healy the time she needed to work on her range hitting – and have a bit of fun in the process.
The Australian players will spend several weeks at Brisbane’s Bupa National Cricket Centre this month as they begin building towards that Ashes series, giving Healy time to perfect her new skills.
“The last few years, it’s something that we’ve tried to bring into my game a little bit more, but we sort of lack the time to be able to give it a real crack,” she said.
“It’s a small technical change and that takes weeks and weeks of practice before it becomes the norm in your set-up, so without that time it’s really difficult to do.
“Fortunately this year we’ve had a six-week break where I could go out and try it. And now we’ve got a bit of a build-up going into the Ashes so I can keep working on it and hopefully it will all come into place in early July when we get started.
“It’s a fun part of the game, obviously, trying to hit the ball hard and hit the ball a long way.
“So even though we were on a break, it was easy to pull myself off the golf course to go and make myself better and know that there was some little things that I could fine tune to keep growing as a cricketer.”
Outside of a two-week stint in Brisbane with fellow Australian-contracted players this month, Healy will be training alongside her new-look state side as she prepares for the Ashes.
The departures of Australian teammates Ellyse Perry (Victoria) and Nicola Carey (Tasmania) are among a host of changes to the reigning Women’s National Cricket League champions, but the NSW Breakers skipper is looking forward to seeing how her young squad develops.
“We’ve got five fresh new faces and had some big changes happen over the off-season … but I think we’ve moved on from the disappointment of some players moving on and taking opportunities elsewhere,” she said.
“I’ve sort of gotten to the stage of some excitement now, with some of the young kids that we’ve got in our squad and the opportunities that they're going to get over the next 12 months to train like full-time athletes and see what they can achieve.
“I think we’ve got some really great people in our group.”
CommBank Ashes Tour of England
First ODI Grace Road, Leicester, July 2
Second ODI Grace Road, Leicester, July 4
Third ODI St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury, July 7
First T20 County Ground, Chelmsford, July 26
Second T20 The County Ground, Hove, July 28
Third T20 Bristol County Ground, Bristol, July 31