Australian skipper Meg Lanning and her deputy Rachael Haynes aren’t just forming a potent leadership combination, they’re also building an unbreakable bond in the middle.
Haynes was installed as Lanning’s vice-captain ahead of Australia’s tour of India in March, following the retirement of Alex Blackwell, having stood in as captain during last summer's Ashes.
With Haynes’ attention to detail and meticulous planning complementing Lanning’s more free-flowing approach to leadership, the pair have taken Australia on a run of six consecutive ODI victories and nine successive T20I wins since March.
But it’s what they bring to the middle-order of Australia’s T20 side that is particularly exciting heading into the World T20 in the Caribbean.
The top four of Beth Mooney, Alyssa Healy, Ashleigh Gardner and Elyse Villani have been given a license to ‘go hard or go home’ in the Power Play and it’s a tactic the Australians believe is the key to reclaiming the ICC crown they relinquished in 2016 – but it’s also a risky game plan that requires a rock-solid plan B.
That’s where Haynes and Lanning come in.
Against New Zealand in September, when Australia were 4-45 in pursuit of the White Ferns’ 162 at North Sydney Oval, Lanning and Haynes put on 119 to seal a six-wicket victory.
In a one-dayer against Pakistan in Malaysia, a record 181-run fourth-wicket stand between the pair carried Australia from 3-54 to 4-235.
And in Tuesday’s World T20 warm-up against South Africa in Guyana, they came together with Australia 4-38 after 10.1 overs, putting on 92 runs from the final 59 deliveries to build a match-winning total.
From the four times they’ve batted together in T20Is this year, they’ve yet to have their partnership broken.
“We enjoy batting together,” Haynes said ahead of Australian training on Wednesday.
“We’ve spent a lot of time playing alongside each other, even early on in our careers back in Victoria, so we know each other’s games really well.
“We run really well between the wickets too, so I think we complement each other really nicely.”
It’s a partnership that’s left Ellyse Perry – the world’s best ODI batter – sitting on the sidelines at No.7, alongside allrounders Sophie Molineux and Delissa Kimmince.
“Ellyse Perry still hasn’t had a bat yet, which is bit a joke in our team,” Haynes laughed.
“But our style of play is that we want to be aggressive at the top.
“Our strength is our batting depth and we’ve got full confidence in our ability that if (the top order) doesn’t come off, we’ve got plenty of people sitting on the bench who can come in and do the job.”
Australia fielded 14 of their 15 in their 46-run warm-up win over the Proteas. The only lingering questions over the XI for Friday’s first game against Pakistan is over the make-up of the bowling attack.
After an impressive all-round bowling performance – led by players including uncapped quick Tayla Vlaeminck and pacer Nicola Carey – in their final tune-up, Haynes thinks it may have left selectors with more questions than answers.
“It has probably made it more complicated, to be honest, we really do have 15 players who could take the field and do a wonderful job for the team," she said.
“I’m pretty thankful I’m not a selector, to be honest.”
Australia’s match against Pakistan will begin at 4pm Friday local time (Saturday 7am AEDT).
Fox Sports will broadcast every match of the Women’s World T20, while the Nine Network will televise Australia’s matches.
2018 ICC Women's World T20
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
November 9: Australia v Pakistan, Province Stadium, Guyana
November 11: Australia v Ireland, Province Stadium
November 13: Australia v New Zealand, Province Stadium
November 17: Australia v India, Province Stadium
November 22: Semi-finals, Sir Vivian Richards Ground, Antigua
November 24: Final, Sir Vivian Richards Ground