Australia coach Matthew Mott has backed opener Alyssa Healy to continue to play her natural risk-reward game in the T20 World Cup despite a poor run in the recent tri-series against India and England.
Healy registered scores of 9, 1, 0, 1, and 4 in the tri-series. It was the first time in her career she had been dismissed for five consecutive single-figure scores in T20I.
In the previous 18 months Healy had dominated the format scoring a staggering 867 runs in 20 innings, at an average of 54.18 and a strike-rate of 157.63, including in a world record 148 not out against Sri Lanka in her last T20I in 2019.
On the eve of a home World Cup, having been player of the tournament in the West Indies in 2018, Mott said Healy was upbeat and backed her to once again be a dominant force for Australia at the top of the order.
“She knows she plays a game that’s high risk and it’s not going to come off all the time,” Mott said. “She had a golden run there for a while which I think she’s mindful it was probably as good as she could get and the good thing is she hasn’t wasted too much form.
“She’s pretty up and about. She’s not out there struggling at the moment. Every time she’s had one chance when she has made a mistake she’s paid a heavy price. The good thing is the main tournament is coming up, she delivered in the last World Cup in just about every game so with quality players like that you’ve just got to keep backing them in because they can win you matches.”
It was a view echoed by captain Meg Lanning. “She’s been so successful in that over the last few years and gets us off to a really good start,” she said at the captain’s day in Sydney. “I’d be more worried if she was going out and blocking it for three overs because that’s not her natural game. I’m sure she’ll hit a few in the middle and be off and running.”
Mott was also adamant Ash Gardner would remain at No. 3 for the World T20, ahead of Lanning and Ellyse Perry, in order to maximise the powerplay.
“Players like Gardner and Healy aren’t in every team and they can take the game away from the opposition, so you’ve got to continue to back that and have back up policies as well. If you want us to be fearless and all the things we bang on about all the time when you get out a couple of times, you can’t try and reinvent the wheel.
“The beauty that we’ve got is we’ve got a lot of depth and that’s one thing we’ve spoken about in the past. We bat down to probably No. 8, genuine batters who can open in the WBBL, so if someone is not firing and we’ve got four or five match-winners there then you’d hope someone else could step up on that particular day.
“In recent times Beth Mooney has done that well as well. It’s not like the opening partnership hasn’t been a success and there are different times where both will have their day but I think the strategy is something where we’re going to be very keen to stick to.”
Australia have a couple of fitness concerns heading into Friday’s opening match against India at Sydney Showgrounds. Erin Burns is still recovering from a knee injury while Sophie Molineux is overcoming a corked calf. Mott expects both to be available although it is unlikely they will play in Tuesday’s practice match against South Africa in Adelaide. Australia is planning on playing 13 and also practicing a Super Over regardless of the result after losing one against England in Canberra in the tri-series.
“It’s something we discussed with the ICC the other day,” Mott said. “They’d like to see it. I think it’s a great idea. It’s a good initiative. Certainly, we were caught out a little bit with some rule changes in the tri-series so an extra chance to practice it in a game against another opposition we’ll be definitely putting our hands up for it.”