Alyssa Healy aims to develop 360-degree strokeplay: 'You might see some new things from me'

Bowlers beware. Alyssa Healy might be about to bring out even more shots. The Australia wicketkeeper-batter could unveil some new strokeplay in the series against New Zealand which starts on Saturday, having used the extended Covid-19-enforced break from the game to look at how she can become a full 360-degree player.

The last time Healy picked up a bat in a match was the T20 World Cup final at the MCG on March 8 where she plundered 75 off 39 balls against India to give Australia a position from where they never threatened to lose the match.

That performance, in front of more than 86,000 people, capped a tournament where Healy had bounced back from a rare lean run of form leading into the event where she had made five single-figure scores in a row during the tri-series, involving England in India, which followed a world-record 148 not out against Sri Lanka last October.

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That run of low scores, which followed a WBBL that was below her typical high standards, was very much a blip in what had been a dominant two years from Healy where she had transformed her game to become one of the leading batters in the world - her ODI record since 2018 boasts an especially prolific average of 58.70 while in T20Is in the same period she averages 37.53 (despite that little lull) with a strike-rate of 153.58.

"I don't want to give away too many secrets to the Kiwis but have been preparing for a few things in particular. Stay tuned." Alyssa Healy

However, while not wanting to give too much away to New Zealand, Healy said that there were parts of the ground that she wanted to be able to score more freely in and has been trying out some of the new skills during the two weeks of training she and the other quarantined players have undergone in Brisbane.

That fortnight elapsed on Monday and the rest of the Australia squad arrived in the city to prepare for the three T20Is and ODIs apiece which will all be played at Allan Border Field.

"After celebrating the World Cup for about a month, I sat down with my batting coach and discussed a few different things we could work on, not necessarily to jump to another level but prepare as best as I could for this New Zealand attack," Healy said. "I don't want to give away too many secrets to the Kiwis but have been preparing for a few things in particular. Stay tuned."

"You might see some new things from me in this series. It was a great opportunity for me to go back and work on things that I hadn't really touched for a while. I'd made some technical changes a couple of years ago and they paid off beautifully but you never want to be standing still; you want to keep learning, growing and developing and there's always areas of your game that you want to work on."

Despite having driven some of her bowling team-mates to distraction during training over the last two weeks, the internationals may come a little too soon for Healy to show off the full new range but she promised that if they don't come out in Brisbane they'll be on show in the WBBL next month.

"I've driven all the bowlers a little agro over the last two weeks trying a few things in the nets," she said. "We'll have to wait and see if they come out in the game; [I am] not sure if I'm confident enough to do it yet but the ultimate goal in cricket is to be able to play 360 [degrees] and for me there's some areas I haven't quite been hitting so have been trying a few things. We'll have to see if they come out this series, if not you'll definitely see it in the WBBL."

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Healy added that she did not see a lot of rust among the players who had been quarantining over the last two weeks despite the long absence from competitive cricket. Although the tour to South Africa after the T20 World Cup was postponed due to Covid-19 the team had been due an extended break over the winter, albeit some players would have been overseas in the UK, playing in the Hundred, under normal circumstances.

"Form-wise, I've been really surprised with everyone around the group in the last two weeks of training, seeing the Victoria and New South Wales players go about it, there's not a lot of rust around which is amazing," she said. "I'm excited to see what this group can achieve with six months rest; every time we come back from a major tournament we are straight back into something else, so for us to have the ability to have some downtime will hopefully do some really good things for the Aussie women's team."

And while Healy could see the bigger picture of how important it is for the women's game to be up and running again - England and West Indies began their five-match T20I series on Monday in Derby - she said that the competitive instincts mean that the will to win would be as strong as ever come the weekend.

"We want to win, and the Rose Bowl [one-day] series in particular is a really big one which we want to keep our hands on. Yes, I see the greater importance of having cricket back up and running here in Australia, but for us we are out there to win."