Alyssa Healy of Australia. (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)
After weeks of break, Australia and England will be back in business as the Women’s international schedule is set to kickstart with the Women’s Ashes between the two sides. England had announced the schedule for the multi-format Women’s Ashes series, which will include the first-ever five-day Test match that will be played at Trent Bridge.
But ahead of the all-important Test, the Australian side might find themselves in a bit of trouble as wicketkeeper-batter Alyssa Healy plans to bat down the order, instead of playing the role of the opener this time, so as to manage her workload. If Healy bats down the order, Australia will have to bring in a new-look opening pair, which will be a tedious task.
In the previous three Test matches, since 2019, Healy has opened for Australia, filling the position she frequently held in the white-ball game. However, the vice-captain is concerned about how keeping the wicket may affect her in her Test cricket. Another thing that bothers her is that she was dismissed after scoring a couple of runs in her previous Test against England, in both innings by Katherine-Sciver Brunt.
“I have given it a lot of thought. And it has been up for discussion for a little bit of time. In the last Test match, look I put my hand up and I wanted to do it. It was my decision to open the batting and I thought it would be a great place to bat. I probably underestimated the work I would have to do in the field, not having to do that all the time. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and if the time comes and they want me to open, okay great. But I’d happily slide down to the middle and whack a Dukes ball around,” Healy was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
Really tough mentally to open and keep: Healy
Healy is the only player, in either the men’s or women’s international, to open the batting and wicket-keep simultaneously. When asked if she preferred to bat at No. 6 or No. 7, just the way she did when she made her Test debut, Healy responded that it was her preference to move down the order now.
“It was tough. I’m not trying to have a cop out, but it was really tough mentally to open and keep. Knowing what the conditions could potentially be like in England, the Dukes ball swings around a little bit longer. The chances behind the stumps are going to be really important. So doing that job well will be my priority. And wherever I have to slot in with the bat, that will be great,” she added.
Healy is conscious that the choice will have an extended impact because Australia will play three Test matches over the course of the next eight months and a new opening pair is already in the works following Rachael Haynes’ retirement from international cricket.
When the Test matches kick off the multi-format Ashes series on June 22 at Trent Bridge, Beth Mooney is expected to move up and replace Haynes because she has previous experience of batting on top. After an outstanding start to her international white-ball career last summer, rising talent Phoebe Litchfield would then be a possibility to make her Test debut as the opening batter.