New Zealand v Australia ODIs - Women's
The aggressor and the anchor: openers set a new standard
From NSW to Australia, Rachael Haynes and Alyssa Healy have forged a strong partnership at the top of the order in one-day cricket
8 April 2021, 02:20 PM AEST
A partnership eight years in the making is setting a new standard for Australia at the top of the order, as they fine-tune their plans for next year's ODI World Cup.
For the casual or newer fan more accustomed to watching Australia's T20 side, the format the national side has more predominantly featured in across the last several years, the sight of Rachael Haynes accompanying Alyssa Healy to the middle rather than 20-over opener Beth Mooney can raise eyebrows.
But the numbers are telling; in 14 ODIs opening the batting together since early 2019, Haynes and Healy have put on an average 62.85 runs for the first wicket at a run rate of 5.59.
It is the highest average of any pair to have opened in more than 10 matches together in Australian women's ODI history, and only the decade long partnership between Belinda Clark and Lisa Keightley yielded more runs (3338 at 52.98 in 66 matches) than Haynes and Healy's 880.
Haynes and Healy may only have been opening the batting together for Australia for two years, but it is a double act they have been perfecting at domestic level for the NSW Breakers since 2013-14.
"We complement each other really well in terms of our styles," Haynes noted following Wednesday's 71-run win over New Zealand.
"Alyssa is more of the aggressor of the two of us and I look to anchor the innings more.
"We've got different roles but we've played a lot of cricket together as well, we open the batting for NSW so we know each other's games well.
"We understand how it looks for each other, too, when they're playing well.
"We've got a good relationship out in the middle and it's nice to see us pulling that off at this level as well."
Haynes first joined Healy at the top for a home ODI series against New Zealand in 2019, when regular opener Nicole Bolton was taking a break from the game.
She briefly returned to the middle order for the Ashes later the same year when Bolton returned to the side, but was reinstalled at the top two months later when the Western Australian again stepped away from the national team.
After modest returns upon returning to the top during that West Indies tour in September 2019, Haynes has since flourished at the top, scoring 56, 118, 63, 44, 82, 96, 14 and 87 during a period where ODI series have been few and far between.
It has been four years since Haynes' surprise recall to the Australia squad, when she was a late addition to the 2017 tour of New Zealand following injuries to Ellyse Perry and Alex Blackwell, following five years out of the national side.
She played just one game that tour, scoring 50 batting in the middle-order in the opening ODI, before her hopes of cementing a place in the XI were dashed when she injured her ankle in a training mishap and was forced to depart the tour early.
Haynes had done enough to convince selectors she should stick around, however, and the 34-year-old has been a part of every Australia squad named since, famously captaining the side during the 2017-18 Ashes in the absence of an injured Meg Lanning.
"When I got that call-up (in 2017) I was getting ready to play club cricket that weekend and I ended up walking out for Australia instead," Haynes said.
"It's been nice to play through this period and also see how much the team as evolved as well.
"It's been a cool thing to be part of but from our point of view we feel like there's some unfinished business."
Healy was acknowledged in the team huddle ahead of Wednesday's game for reaching the milestone of 200 international matches across all formats, a feat previously only achieved by Perry and Blackwell, and the gravity of the achievement has not been lost on Haynes.
"To play 200 games for her country over last decade or so is a phenomenal achievement," she said.
"When people think of Midge (Healy) at the moment and how dominant she's been, they think she's probably always had it easy and has a natural flair.
"But being someone who has played alongside her for a long time, I remember the early days when she was up and down the order trying to find her place in the team.
"Over the last couple of years it's been cool to see her take her game to a whole other level.
"She's one of the most exciting, flamboyant and natural stroke players to watch play the game and we all enjoy playing alongside her as well."
CommBank tour of New Zealand 2021
Australia ODI & T20I Squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Molly Strano, Georgia Wareham, Belinda Vakarewa, Tayla Vlaeminck
New Zealand ODI squad: Amy Satterthwaite (capt), Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Frances Mackay, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin (wk), Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu
1st T20: Australia won by six wickets
2nd T20: New Zealand won by four wickets
3rd T20: Play abandoned due to rain
1st ODI: Australia won by six wickets
2nd ODI: Australia won by 71 runs
All matches will be shown live in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo