Photo: Ian Healy behind the stumps at training in the West Indies, March 1999 (Getty Images)
If there was any pressure on Tom Healy to become a cricket star, it’s certainly not coming from his famous father.
The son of 119-Test veteran, Ian, Tom will tomorrow join 14 other bright young cricketing prospects as part of the Australia under-19s tour of Sri Lanka for five one-day matches and one three-day clash in Colombo.
“There was definitely no pressure (from Ian),” Tom told cricket.com.au.
“I just enjoyed cricket growing up. He's told me that he doesn't mind what I do but he'll 100 per cent back me with what I decide to do, and at the moment it's cricket.
Having a dad who is widely regarded as Australia’s greatest gloveman and who continues to work with some of the best keepers around the country has its benefits, but Tom says he also welcomes advice from other coaches that he works with.
“To live in the same house as a wicketkeeper who played for Australia and coaches the current Australian wicketkeepers, it doesn't come around very often,” he said.
“He's there as a really good back up. I like to take my game into my own hands a bit and work on my game with other mentors and get their advice and just keep filtering that in.
“He's there when I really need him. I try and have a catch with him often just to make sure I'm going along the right track.
“But I like getting advice from other coaches and other voices to see what they think I should be doing to continue to evolve my game.”
While the trip to the subcontinent will provide the talented youngsters with the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of coach Graeme Hick and assistant coach Ali de Winter, it also presents Healy with the chance to gauge how far he has come as player in the past 18 months.
The 18-year-old ventured to Sri Lanka earlier last year as part of a district cricket trip and admits he initially struggled to adjust to the conditions.
“Early on I struggled a little bit, but as the tour went on I got a bit better,” Healy said.
“Playing spin with the bat is an awesome challenge as well. They can spin it off any length and I've prepared a little bit for that so it'll be interesting to see if I can put it into the games.
“It's an opportunity that I've been given that's one to remember and cherish.
“I've put in a lot of hard work over the pre-season and working with the likes of Graeme Hick and Greg Chappell as mentors is going to be awesome to be on tour and play some games under their leadership and learn from them.”
Thanks largely to Adam Gilchrist, the role of the keeper-batsman has been redefined since Ian’s retirement in 1999 and Cricket Australia’s National Talent Manager Greg Chappell believes Tom is a ‘classy stroke-maker in the mould of his father’.
“I have got the power to be aggressive against the bowlers, but also when the team's in need to stick around for a while and just guts it out,” Healy said, before the U19 squad came together in Brisbane.
“That comes back to your basic technique and your basic skills, to be able to adapt to whatever's thrown at you.”
And if any opponents think Tom can be put off his game with jibes about carrying his famous surname, there’s a fair chance he’s heard it all before.
“That's just a part of what I've had to grow up with,” Tom said.
“I've just learnt to have a bit of a laugh. They get over it and it doesn't last very long so I just brush it off and have a quiet chuckle.”
Australia U19 15-man squad: Liam Banthorpe, Lain Beckett, Izaac Boylan, David Grant, Sam Grimwade, Sam Harper, Tom Healy, Clint Hinchliffe, Matthew Kuhnemann, Patrick McKenna, Jonte Pattison, Matthew Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, Kyle Scrimegour, Jake Winter.
Australia U19 tour to Sri Lanka schedule
25 September – 1st One Day match, Sinhalese Sports Club
27 September – 2nd One Day match, R Premadasa International Cricket Stadium
29 September – 3rd One Day match, Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic CC
1 October – 4th One Day match, Colombo Cricket Club
3 October – 5th One Day match, Nondescript Cricket Club
7-9 October, 3-day match, Colombo Colts Cricket Club