How Alyssa Healy went from slugger to beast

by Sonali Mishra Human Resource Executive

Each roar seemed dwarfed by the next. It was a sound Alyssa Healy never dreamed she would hear from the middle of a cricket stadium. She had played much of her career to the soundtrack of scattered applause from modest crowds, sometimes the players' entourages outnumbering the spectators.

But here, in the MCG cauldron, there were 86,174 sets of vocal cords thrumming in communal expectation as she tapped her bat and waited for the opening delivery of a T20 World Cup final that had been hyped far beyond any women's game in history. The first roar erupted as soon as the ball rocketed off her bat. Deepti Sharma's delivery was a gift, a full toss hammered wide of long-on for a boundary.

Healy's remit was to attack; sometimes it paid off, at other times it led to early exits. The latter almost happened in the first over here, when the roars segued into gasps, but Shafali Verma's mangled attempt at a diving catch ensured an extended life.

The volume button was turned up when Healy charged at Rajeshwari Gayakwad on consecutive balls, her strong bottom hand launching a ball over the long-on boundary.

Also Read: T20 World Cup History Men and Women

The quivering needle almost snapped when she struck the third of three successive sixes off the hapless Shikha Pandey. The ball was full and pitched outside off stump. With exquisite timing and power, Healy cleared her front leg and hewed the ball over cover. It was easily the shot of the night, the sort hardly seen in the women's game until recent years. Most still can't conjure it.

And as the crowd thundered its approval, Healy chuckled. She had smiled and laughed throughout her innings, an elite athlete in her prime, relishing every beat of her showstopping routine that eclipsed Katy Perry's pre-match shimmying bats. Now it was Healy's bat singing and dancing, and its owner was having a ball.

Soon she would be dancing again, this time on a stage with her team-mates and Perry, rock stars of the cricket world.

As a young child growing up on Queensland's Gold Coast, Healy wasn't particularly interested in cricket, despite being part of a family immersed in it. Her father, Greg, had played for his state and her uncle Ian had become an international star courtesy his peerless wicketkeeping, vital runs and vice-captaincy of the Australian team.

It wasn't until seven-year-old Healy moved to Sydney along with Greg, her mother, Sandy, and her older sister, Kareen, that she fell into the game thanks to a school friend's invitation. The friend soon dropped out, but Healy was hooked, and she soon signed up with a junior club.

As is typical for many young Australians, cricket wasn't her sole sporting pursuit.

"I pretty much played every sport under the sun," she recalls. "I actually loved playing soccer growing up. When I got into primary school down here, one of the PE teachers came from a really big hockey family and lured me across to the hockey side, so I put soccer aside and joined hockey.

"I probably always wanted to play hockey for Australia, but I think everybody knows the way that I hate training, that was never gonna happen. I was so into cricket and I enjoyed that a little bit more, I think."

Life was settled in Sydney, filled with family, school, friends, and sport. Then, when Healy was 12, her family's life changed forever.

Also Read: Men’s T20 World Cup Winners List 

Like her little sister, Kareen was a healthy and happy teenager who loved playing sport. A day after her 15th birthday, Kareen finished her classes at the private girls school she and Alyssa attended and met her friends to play in the school's rugby team.

There, without warning, Kareen collapsed. She had suffered an anaphylactic reaction and went into cardiac arrest. After she spent several days in a coma, doctors delivered the devastating news that she wouldn't recover, and her family made the agonizing decision to switch off Kareen's life support.

"It's never really brought up a lot and I never forcibly bring it up," Healy says. "But if people ask me, I'll talk about it. But yeah, our world changed pretty much that day.

"We probably still haven't [gotten over it], to be honest with you, but Mum and Dad have been amazing. I don't know how they've done it. I was a bit of shit of a teenager and probably just locked myself away a lot, but Mum and Dad have managed to deal with it."

As Healy entered her final year of high school, Greg took a job in Singapore, hoping a change would help the healing process. Sandy stayed to support her daughter through her studies before joining her husband.

"I was pretty much independent as soon as I finished school, and living at home, looking after a dog and being fiercely independent straight out of school. They moved over there for five or six years to see if it could change the way things were, and they've come back to Australia now and sort of been going okay. I don't think anyone really recovers from anything like that, but they've done everything possible to try and heal themselves along the way."

In the years following Kareen's death, Healy's growing talent with the bat and behind the stumps was rewarded with selection in New South Wales age-group squads.

"A lot of those names are still playing WBBL or WNCL. I remember playing against Emma Ingles and Elyse Villani. Meg Lanning played for NSW back then, so it was a really great group of young cricketers coming through at that point and I don't think any of them thought they could have a career out of the game."

Also Read: Lowest and Highest Powerplay Score in IPL History

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About Sonali Mishra Senior     Human Resource Executive

214 connections, 7 recommendations, 684 honor points.
Joined APSense since, June 13th, 2019, From Delhi, India.

Created on May 15th 2020 10:34. Viewed 229 times.


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