Australia are breaking records aplenty. They have spent the last 18 months dominating the women’s circuit – thrashing opposition as if their life depended on it. Along the way, they registered a record 18th consecutive ODI win, surpassing the previous record of 17 – registered by a Belinda Clark-led Australia between 1997 and 1999.
Australia’s current winning streak started against India in March 2018 and since then the juggernaut has continued to gain momentum. They have now whitewashed India, New Zealand, England, West Indies and Sri Lanka in the ODI format, and sit pretty atop the ICC Women’s ODI Championship table.
Lanning, a ruthless batter herself. When she walks in to the middle, a cold determination seems to glaze over her eyes – she is a batting machine.
Their captain’s ruthlessness has rubbed off on the entire Australian team it seems. They are now working as a ruthless machine, notching up win after win after win. It is something the skipper is very proud of.
“Something we’ve made a bit of a habit of over the last little bit, is finishing off series really well,” Lanning said after Australia handed Sri Lanka a nine-wicket thrashing in the third and final ODI in Brisbane. “And I know there’s been a lot of talk in the media about the record, but I can honestly say within our group that we haven’t really spoken about it. We go into every game to try and win it, so it was no different today and to finish it off like that in style was a great effort.”
“We spoke about making sure we do that because we do sort of split up now as a group. I thought everyone did a great job – the bowlers especially, and then Midge (Alyssa Healy) and Rach (Rachael Haynes) with the bat.”
It was fitting that when Australia was within touching distance of breaking the record, Belinda Clark was there on commentary.
“She sent me a message that her team only lost two games out of 33, so we need to keep going,” Lanning laughed. “We’ve got one record, but we need to make sure we keep going. So we’re under strict instructions…”
Looking back to where it all started, the skipper mentioned the 2017 Women’s World Cup semi-final loss to India as the turning point. It was the moment that made Australia realise that some things needed to change – they were no longer the dominant force they thought they were.
The ruthlessness since that defeat has made Australia, even more, stronger and highly competitive. Australia have churned out performances of high caliber in their 18 streak of wins.
“World Cups are extremely difficult to win. We’ve experienced the highs and lows of World Cups over the last sort of 4-5 years,” she said. “Our group is (as) hungry as ever to keep improving and keep being successful. So once we get back to sort of January and February (after the Women’s Big Bash League), we’ll get back together as a group and hopefully continue to be successful.”
The cornerstone of the series sweep against Sri Lanka has undoubtedly been Alyssa Healy. The wicket-keeper batter’s consistent demolition of the Sri Lankan attack at the top of the order laid the foundation for the rest of batters to play with more freedom. Healy was also named the player of the series as she amassed 189 runs in three innings at a staggering average of 94.50 with an unbeaten ton (112) in the final match of the series.
“It was a great way to finish the series,” said Healy. “Obviously, we were looking to get a good win on the board, and for me, it was just going out there and playing with freedom again.”
“I thought our bowlers did a really good job keeping them to that total and I just wanted to get out there and enjoy myself, and express myself.”
Walking in to bat in pursuit of Sri Lanka’s 195, as well as world-record, it took precisely two overs for Healy to know she was ‘on’.
“Today it was a real focus of mine to just come out and play the ball straight down the ground,” she explained. “Obviously when one came off in the second over it was sort of like a monkey off my back and I was ready to go.”
As was the case when Healy smashed the highest individual T20I score in Sydney – it was Australia skipper Meg Lanning at the other end to guide Healy through it.
With 669 runs from 12 innings, Healy is the leading run-scorer in women’s ODIs in 2019. Having been pushed to the opening position in late 2017, the right-hander has now turned into one of the most feared batters on the women’s circuit. Her tremendous run of form – that saw her score her maiden ODI century in March last year – has extended over 12 months, and doesn’t look to be on the wane at all. It is likely her form will extend into another season of the Women’s Big Bash League.
“Hopefully I can just keep going until I hang up the boots really,” Healy laughed. “I’m just really enjoying my cricket at the moment. I’m really excited for WBBL. I think everyone in the group. The room downstairs really enjoys it, and going into their new environments I think… This one will be a lot of fun, and hopefully I can keep it going for the Sixers, and if not, I’m sure Ash Gardner would love a hit!”
While the Australia players will get a bit of a break from international cricket, they now jump straight into the first standalone edition of the WBBL beginning next Friday (October 18). It is a tournament Lanning believes has worked as a finishing school for many of their players.
“I think the WBBL really does prepare you extremely well for international cricket,” Lanning admitted. “It gets you on the big stage in front of crowds, on TV, and the style of cricket is great as well. You’ve got the world’s best players from overseas and from Australia playing and it’s a great standard.”
“I’ve got no doubt that that’s lifted the ability within our team and as we’ve seen over the last few tours, we’ve brought players in who have been playing state cricket for a while, and WBBL and they’ve fitted in seamlessly and have looked at home on the national stage. So, I have no doubt that the BBL has played a massive role in that.”
However, before the WBBL gets underway Lanning and co. have time to look back and celebrate their domination over the last year and a half. After all, records aren’t broken every day!