CommBank T20I Series v Sri Lanka
Healy joins elite company with a ton of T20Is
Across nine years and 99 T20Is, Australia wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy has turned herself into one of the leading forces in 20-over cricket
Laura Jolly is a Melbourne-based journalist for cricket.com.au. She previously wrote for News Corp Australia and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
If you’d asked Alyssa Healy after just one ball of her T20I debut where her international career might take her, the Australian wicketkeeper is unlikely to have predicted she’d one day be celebrating a century of appearances in the format.
Just 19 years old, Healy was filling in for injured wicketkeeper and Australian captain Jodie Fields in the first T20I against New Zealand at Bellerive Oval in February 2010 when she dropped White Ferns skipper Aimee Watkins from the first ball of the game.
The now-29-year-old has had her fair share of ups and downs on the field since then but is currently in the form of her life - and living up to the promise she's shown since her junior days - having claimed her first Belinda Clark Award and led Australia to a T20 World Cup title as well as an away Ashes win in the past 12 months.
When Healy takes the gloves in Monday night’s second T20I against Sri Lanka at North Sydney Oval, it’ll mark her 100th T20 International, and her 174th overall appearance for her country.
She becomes just the eighth woman to play more than 100 T20Is and only the second Australian, joining her teammate and close friend Ellyse Perry.
"I actually hadn’t thought about it, Pez (Perry) asked me how many games I’d played, and I said I had absolutely no idea," Healy told cricket.com.au ahead of the Sri Lanka series.
"But it’s a special milestone. We play a lot of T20 cricket but that’s over a 10-year period, coming in and out of the team, so it’s a pretty proud moment.
"Standing at Kensington Oval (in Barbados) 10 years ago (after Australia won the T20 World Cup), I thought I was just enjoying myself and Jodie Fields would keep forever and I’d never really get a look in.
"So, I never thought I’d get there. But at the same time, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
"Hopefully I can play 100 more."
Australia will also hope Healy has another 100 matches in her, given her recent run with the bat.
A regular member of Australia’s squads since 2010, it was Healy’s reputation as one of the world’s best behind the stumps that helped her hold her place in the national side.
Between 2010 and the end of 2017, she averaged just 18.82 with the bat in ODIs and 17.53 in T20Is, scoring six half-centuries across that period.
For a player whose talent with the bat was undeniable, and who had dominated at domestic level for years, her inability to translate promise into a pile of runs for Australia was a source of frustration for both Healy and her coaches alike.
That changed, in stunning fashion, following Australia’s failed one-day World Cup campaign in England in 2017.
It’s been well documented the changes Healy made: she worked with her batting mentor Ash Squire on developing new shots and finding new scoring areas, she took her strength and fitness to new levels and – probably most crucially – finally gained the belief that she does belong among the game’s top batters.
Since that 2017 World Cup, she’s averaged 53 in ODIs and 36.04 in T20Is, scoring more runs across both limited-overs formats than any of her Australian teammates, a run that has featured 14 half-centuries and two ODI tons.
"She’s made a shift in the last few years in terms of taking responsibility for her game and dominating international cricket," Australia captain Meg Lanning told cricket.com.au.
"I think she’s had the capability to do that for a long time and she’s shown glimpses of it throughout her career.
"She’s always dominated domestic cricket and had her moments internationally, but hadn’t been as consistent as she would have liked.
"But giving her the responsibility of opening in all formats. she’s taken that in her stride and to see her dominating now is incredible.
"She’s a great player and a really good team person as well."
Healy’s recent run included her stunning campaign during last year’s T20 World Cup when she scored 225 runs at 56.25 to be named player of the tournament as Australia sealed their fourth title.
That form continued during Australia’s tour of the West Indies earlier this month, when she was named player of the series in both the ODIs and T20Is, scoring 349 runs across both formats as the tourists swept all six matches.
"In the last couple years, she’s really taken her batting to another level," Australia allrounder Jess Jonassen told cricket.com.au.
"She probably never thought she’d be in this position, she had a rough trot at the start of her career in the T20s, but now she’s showcasing her ability.
"She’s very cheeky, a bit of a prankster and always up for a bit of banter which is nice.
"She buzzes around like a bit of a mozzie and keeps the mood up and about."
Anyone who is familiar with Healy would also be familiar with her reputation as the team’s quick-witted resident pest.
What may be less obvious to those outside of the Australian, New South Wales and Sydney Sixers squads is Healy’s serious side, one that’s only grown since she was installed as Breakers captain ahead of the 2018-19 summer.
"She’s a really important personality within cricket," Perry said of Healy, who she has played alongside at every level for the last 20 years.
"She always provides entertainment on and off the field, but she’s done a lot more than that too.
"There’s a serious side to Midge. She deeply cares about the game, about her teammates and about what she wants to do as a player.
"She’s evolved over a long period of time, being an understudy to Jodie Fields to where she is now as this incredibly mercurial player (and) such a strong leader.
"Dare I say it, she’s pretty brilliant and we get along like sisters and I absolutely love every minute of playing cricket with Midge."
CommBank Series v Sri Lanka
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Erin Burns (T20I only), Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Heather Graham, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
Sri Lanka T20I squad: Chamari Atapattu (c), Harshitha Madavi, Shashikala Siriwardena, Anushka Sanjeewani, Hansima Karunaratne, Yashoda Mendis, Nilakshi De Silva, Dilani Manodara, Oshadhi Ranasinghe, Inoka Ranaweera, Sugandhika Kumari, Inoshi Fernando, Achini Kulasooriya, Udeshika Probodhani, Ama Kanchana.
First T20I: Australia won by 41 runs
Second T20I: September 30, North Sydney Oval, 7.10pm
Third T20I: October 2, North Sydney Oval, 10.10am
Second ODI: October 7, Allan Border Field, Brisbane, 10.10am
*All ODIs are ICC Women's Championship matches