Like uncle, like niece
Interview with Australian wicket-keeper Alyssa HealyAugust 18, 2012, 7:46 pm
by Chathura Pinnawala
Alyssa Healy’s cricket career so far hasn’t been devoid of memorable moments. The Australian national women’s team wicket-keeper has been the focal point from the day she started cricket, and the first of those was lighted when she became the first girl to be selected to play alongside the male counterparts in 2006.
Alyssa (22) is from a cricketing family. Her uncle is former champion Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy.
She will be in Sri Lanka for the ICC World T-20 and in this interview with Sunday Island she tells us how her wicket-keeping developed by playing with boys. She also speaks on Australia’s chances during the World T-20 and lots more.
Here are the excerpts.
Question: Your introduction to Cricket is a unique story. What was the reason that convinced you to start playing the sport? Was it a long time goal of yours or you woke up one day and it hit you that you should be a professional cricketer?
Alyssa: Obviously there was a lot of cricket in my family before I was born so I sometimes joke that I was always going to end up playing cricket because it was in my blood. When I was seven, a friend of mine at that time actually asked if I wanted to go along to a Kanga Cricket session down at the local park. I apparently was always quite distracted by the sandpit at the local park and often had to be encouraged back into the session by my dad! I think once I got into playing cricket and noticed that I had some talent is when I saw that I could possibly go all the way and play for Australia.
Question: We are told that Baker’s College First XI cricket team chose a female as their wicket-keeper. You were aged 16 at that point. Talk about that?
Alyssa: That was quite a funny situation to be in! Barker College was always really supportive and actually offered me to try out in the first place and I agreed that if I wasn’t good enough to play First XI then that was fine, I would be happy. So I was quite excited to be selected. I don’t think any of the boys actually saw an issue with it until the media caught up with a letter that was written by an Old Barker Boy who wasn’t happy with my selection. It was quite a day when I had channel 9 knocking down my door at 6am wanting my opinion to me being on the front page of the newspaper!
Question: Did playing with the boys enhance your career and skills?
Alyssa: Definitely. Playing with the boys I feel was great for me. To be playing alongside and against 17-18 year old boys who were a lot bigger and stronger than me was a real challenge and I feel my game definitely came a long way over that period of time. I felt like I learnt a lot about myself and my game and how I could push myself and do things I never thought I could.
Question: Let’s talk about your illustrious uncle, Aussie legend Ian Healy. You must have started watching cricket parallel to the time your uncle reached the zenith of wicket-keeping in world cricket.
Alyssa: I remember going to watch a Test Match at the SCG with my friends and we stood at the fence yelling at him to come and say hello while he was in the middle of a warm-up. We had no idea what any of it meant at that time. However, I look back now I feel slightly embarrassed about the situation and actually appreciate him coming and saying hello afterwards! I feel privileged to have him as an uncle. He is always very supportive of what I do, even though I play for New South Wales and not Queensland where is like a legend. I’m pretty lucky that if I have a problem with my game that I am just a phone call away from one of the best wicket-keepers in the world.
Question: Women’s cricket has undergone massive changes in the past decade. It has risen to a status that is universally accepted now. How do you acknowledge its journey to where it is today?
Alyssa: It’s pretty exciting to be a part of. The introduction of T-20 has enabled not only Cricket Australia but countries around the world to promote cricket to a female audience and a big part of that is by promoting us as a female playing group.
Question: Who is your idol in cricket? If you could bring any professional cricketer back into the game, who would it be?
Alyssa: I still love watching Ricky Ponting bat. He is an incredible player and has been for so long which is so impressive. He should be an inspiration to most young players coming through simply by just looking at his records. As a cricket tragic, I would love to bring back the Australian bowling attack from the 90s and early 2000s, just for one more game, preferably against the current England team! To be able to see Glen McGrath and Shane Warne still bowling sides out with ease would be great!
Question: You have achieved so much. It has happened in a very short span of time which means you must have had some unforgettable moments. What are the defining moments in your cricketing career?
Alyssa: I have enjoyed every moment of playing cricket not only for my country but for my state and club as well. Some of my most memorable moments would have to be: Winning the World T-20 in the Caribbean in 2010, reclaiming the Ashes in 2011 and making my Test debut. Being Able to win five WNCLs with New South Wales is also a great feeling.
Question: It seems like you are a frequent tweeter. You also seem to be quite active on social media. How important is this new medium of communication to you as a sports person?
Alyssa: Yes I do love my twitter! I always said I would never join but then I tried it one day and have been hooked ever since. It’s a great tool to be able to promote yourself and your team to a wide audience.
Question: How excited are you about the upcoming ICC World T-20 in Sri Lanka and how’s your preparations been?
Alyssa: I am so excited for the upcoming ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. I have never been to Sri Lanka before so I am excited to not only play cricket but to see the beautiful country as well. As an Australian squad we are in really good form heading into the tournament so hopefully we can win all our games including the final!
Question: How do you rate your chances this time around?
Alyssa: I think that the competition is going to be really tough. Every team has been performing really well of late and are all looking good heading into the tournament. We have been really working hard and feel like the team is in a good shape to go in and defend the title.
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Last Updated May 19 2013 | 08:24 pm