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Ind vs Aus, 1st women’s T20I – Alyssa Healy

Meg Lanning’s indefinite break from the game means Alyssa Healy will lead Australia Women for the first time in her career during the opening T20I against India on Friday.

Lanning has been the captain since 2014, while Healy was named the vice-captain in October this year, after Rachael Haynes announced her retirement. So is Healy merely subbing in for Lanning, or will she try to leave her own stamp on the side?

“The lines are very blurry,” Healy said with a laugh on the eve of the first T20I. “It’s an interesting one. I am sort of being given the freedom to make it mine. We are not 100% certain about what the future holds for Meg… She’ll make some decisions in her own time, which has afforded [me] that opportunity.

“I am a very different leader to Meg, I am a very different personality. It’s about me putting my spin on that role and doing the best I possibly can to this group to maintain the success we have had. I am really enjoying that challenge.”

Healy made her international debut in 2010, but it wasn’t until 2017, when she was made to open the innings, that she became an integral part of the side. She may not have led at the international level but is no stranger to the role, having been the captain of Sydney Sixers in the Women’s Big Bash League.

Healy is known for her jovial nature on the field and quirky comments from behind the stumps, and she doesn’t think that needs changing with the extra responsibility of leading the side.

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“I don’t think I need to change too much personality-wise within the group,” she said. “[It is] probably about putting more thought and planning about what’s going on on the field. Otherwise, I have enjoyed support from the group of players in encouraging me to be who I am and lead the group like I normally do from within.”

But there has been “a little bit of illness” around that group. “Beth Mooney and Darcie Brown haven’t been at training,” Healy said. “I am fairly certain that at least Moons is good to go for tomorrow.”

“I don’t think I need to change too much personality-wise within the group. [It is] probably about putting more thought and planning about what’s going on on the field”

A bigger challenge for Healy, though, could be doing it all – opening the batting, keeping wicket and captaining – in Mumbai, where the weather has been unusually hot and humid for this time of the year. But she isn’t worried.

“I love the challenge of thriving in high-pressure situations,” she said. “But it is all about managing workload as well. I am really fortunate to have great leaders in our group that don’t necessarily have a C or VC next to their name. You only have to look around the group that has been together for a long period of time to know I can lean on them for some help.

“I am really lucky in that regard, I don’t have any ego when it comes to leadership or captaincy. I am keen for it to be a collaborative affair for the group. The more inputs we get from senior and younger players, it’s only going to benefit our team.”

“What a whirlwind it’s been!” she said. “Since 2018, think about what has happened in the world of cricket but also what happened in the world over that period… [It] has been quite a unique experience to be a part of. Personally, it has been good to be back here. India holds some special memories and some nice memories. That maiden hundred will last a lifetime. I am excited to be back here.”

Talk about the Women’s IPL and Healy’s eyes light up. The BCCI is set to launch the tournament, comprising five teams, in March. Healy indicated her interest to be part of it, and at the same time, looked at the bigger picture too.

“I’ve heard the whispers of the Women’s IPL and what it might look like,” she said. “I am excited, not from a personal point of view but for the game itself to really thrive and flourish over here and the fact how excited everyone is to talk about it. I am sure we all will stick our hands up and want to be a part of it. To experience what an amazing thing the IPL is and to have a women’s version of it is really great for our game.”

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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