WPL is everything, I thought it would be: Australian wicketkeeper-batter Alyssa Healy
How was it growing up in a family of cricketers? How was your childhood like?
Actually, there wasn’t too much cricket which might sound a little bit funny but obviously uncle Ian (Healy) was off playing for Australia and my dad (Greg Healy) was still playing most weekends. But, we moved to Sydney, away from all the family, when I was seven. So, it wasn’t like we had big Christmas bashes where we were all playing cricket and stuff like that. It was sort of just us down there. So yeah, it was probably less cricket than what everybody seemed to probably think. But once I started and learned the game, family got a bit more heavily involved considering how experienced they were at the game and wanted to teach me a lot about it. For me, I just literally played every sport I could. It didn’t really matter what it was. I just wanted to play and be out in the sunshine. So yeah, cricket was just one of those sports that I was playing.
So how did you decide that it’s going to be cricket? Were you nudged or encouraged by the family members?
No, not really. I think cricket always just seemed to be the constant. I seemed to play that every summer around school sports and maybe [I] had a little bit of talent, I’m not too sure, but it just seemed to continue there and I just kept getting picked in teams and kept getting new opportunities. So, it was just always a constant in my life and I was never pushed into the game or encouraged into playing that any more than any of the other sports. I think it was just sort of a fact that maybe I was a little bit better at it and I was enjoying it more.
From there you have now won six T20 World Cups and an ODI World Cup. Only you and Ellyse Perry have this distinction. How does it feel now that you have achieved so much?
I’m most proud of being able to forge my own career in the game. When I first started, I was always referenced as Ian Healy’s niece and everyone probably only knew me as that, but I think that sort of stopped quite a while ago because it was not as necessary anymore. Women’s cricket has become its own entity and become something that people know. So, they’ve stopped making that reference. I’m just more proud of that and being able to achieve some amazing things and experience a lot of amazing stuff along the way as well. It’s been really, really enjoyable. I’m glad I stuck with cricket. The last 12 years of international cricket in particular have been super exciting and hopefully there’s a couple more left in me.
Which one of these seven World Cups you have won makes you feel the most excited?
Well, I think the 2022 50-over World Cup. If you asked a lot of our group, they’d say that one was probably the most special just because there had been a long build up to it, a lot had been spoken about our group and you know what happened in the 2017 World Cup. We had won the 2013 50-over World Cup as well. So, we had sort of let ourselves down in 2017 was what everyone seemed to be saying. So that one was the most special. For me personally to contribute to it in the semi-final and the final probably just makes it a little bit more special.
This Australian women’s cricket team is probably the best-ever in the world because of the kind of dominance and consistency this team has shown in the last decade or so. How does it feel to be a part of such a unit?
I mean it’s almost a flattering thing to know that you’re a part of [such] a team because you’ve got to be pretty good to stay in that 11. So, from that regard, it’s a nice pat on the back. I think for me, like when I finish my career and look back on it, I’m just going to really enjoy the fact and probably celebrate the fact that I’ve been able to play with some of the players that are going to go down as the best in world cricket ever. The likes of Ellyse Perry and Meg Lanning. Beth Mooney is building a remarkable career for herself, and look at the bowlers as well, Megan Schutt. I could go on forever, but for me, what we’ve been able to do as a group, super impressive. But the way that we carry ourselves off the field, the way we all get along, it’s like a little family and that’s what I’m most proud of. It’s no secret as to why we’ve had so much success, because the culture off the field is pretty incredible and people want to be a part of it. So that for me is even more special than the trophies.
You are now part of the first-ever WPL and it’s being billed as one of the biggest properties in women’s sport. How has been the experience of playing in the WPL so far?
It’s been incredible. It’s probably everything that I thought it would be. It’s been exciting. It’s been high-scoring. It’s been a little bit chaotic at times. And I absolutely love that. And I’m really grateful for the opportunity to come over here and play and lead the side as well. I mean that’s a pretty unique feat to get to do that in the first-ever season itself. So, it’s been a great tournament so far and I can see that it’s just going to keep growing year on year and hopefully do amazing things for Indian cricket.
What makes you so hopeful about WPL?
For starters, it’s only going to continue to grow the women’s game here in India. You can see it on the TV every night and everyone’s tuned in to it, whether you’re sitting at the bar or you’re at home, you can watch it. That’s only going to inspire the next generation and also the current generation to go out there and want to take up cricket and be better at it. That’s incredible, especially when you look at the population that India has. It’s a little bit scary to think of if you even inspire another 20,000 people to pick up a bat, you know how strong is Indian cricket going to be? So that’s really exciting.
But also from a financial point of view, just simply looking at the investment that’s being put into this WPL, it’s pretty significant and it’s going to encourage other boards and organisations and tournaments to continue to invest in the women’s game to keep up. The fact that people want to invest in this and people are spending an astronomical amount of money to buy teams, I think, is a great pat on the back for the women’s game at the moment and like I said, it’s only going to keep getting bigger and better, which is super exciting.
When UP Warriorz asked you to lead, how did you feel? Were you expecting it or it came as a surprise?
It was an interesting one. I didn’t think that I would be their choice. They had signed Deepti Sharma, who’s a local girl and obviously a big part of this franchise. And I thought maybe potentially that was going to be the role for her, but they approached me to do it. I wasn’t sure it was something that I really wanted to do, but at the end of the day, to put myself out of my comfort zone a little bit and get to learn a little bit more about all these girls and sort of dive into the full experience of it really just made me say yes to it. Knowing that Deepti, who’s well established and has a relationship with the girls already, is going to be vice-captain and can sort of play that nice bridge role in between [local players] and a foreign player coming into this environment, I thought it might be a nice mix and it’s been great so far. I don’t regret saying yes, that’s for sure. It’s been a great experience.
The composition of the team is so eclectic and they speak different languages, how challenging the captaincy has been?
It’s definitely been a little bit of a challenge at times, more so just because of probably the language barrier. I speak a lot differently to Jon (Lewis, coach) does, him being British and I’m an Aussie. So that might be a little bit hard for some of the local girls in particular to pick up maybe our sense of humour, but also understand at times. But we’ve got an amazing support staff around us and also a couple of senior girls within the side who have been great at whether it be translating or just reassuring the girls that we’ve got complete faith in them and know what they can do and just come and bring their natural game. That’s what we’ve encouraged the whole time and I think we’ve sort of got that trust between the group now to just go out there and play our best and play the way that we know we can. So that’s been really cool and we’re really lucky to have a great group of people around us.
Who are the domestic Indian players who have impressed you during this period? If you can name some.
There’s been a few. We saw Kiran [Navgire] play an unbelievable knock in the first game of 50 odd (53) for us. She’s been incredible and even Simran [Shaikh] as well. She probably hasn’t made the runs that she would like but her athleticism in the field and also her power with the bat, we haven’t quite seen the best of it, but that’s been super impressive so far. Everyone knows Devika [Vaidya], she is a real up and coming talent. We played her in December [2022, in T20Is in Australia]. She got the opportunity to play for India and we got the opportunity to play against her but to see her in action in my team, it’s going to be really exciting for the future. She’s got a lot of skills that she can bring to the group, which is cool. So, I’m pretty sure I could name our whole squad because we’ve got a great group of young Indian talent that are going to do great things for India in the future, I hope.
Leading the UP Warriorz in the WPL, what have been the learnings for you?
I’ve captained quite a bit throughout my career, especially early on, and I’ve captained the New South Wales side for a number of years as well. But, for me as a leader in this environment, it’s about building trust, being patient, having discussions with people, and giving them the confidence to go out there and back themselves to use their skills. This has been a great learning experience for me to not just assume that everyone’s super confident and everyone’s comfortable and everyone knows what they’re doing. That’s been a really great learning for me to ensure that I’m checking in on everyone, making sure that they’re feeling good, making sure they’re confident to go out there and play their best for the group. So that’s been great for me and it’s really put me out of my comfort zone a little bit. I’m happy just going on tour, doing my own thing and sort of getting the job done where I need to. But this has been a great sort of learning for me to dive in and get to know everyone a little bit more and bring their skills to life.
Favourite sport other than cricket?
Alex Carey is my favourite cricketer at the moment.
Favourite player from another sport?
Rickie Fowler (American golfer).
Mag learning or Ellyse Perry, pick one?
Do I have to answer that? (Laughs) I’m just going to flip a coin and see which way it lands, because they’re both amazing.
Into the blue.
Well, I like Into the Blue because my favorite actor was Paul Walker. He died a long time ago but I’ll stick with him.
Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams.
Do you read books? If yes, which one is your favorite?
I’m not a big book reader. I used to be but not really anymore.
Cat person or dog person?
I’ll stick to non-alcoholic. Diet Coke.
Favourite activity when you’re not playing cricket?
Favourite holiday destination outside Australia?
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