Alyssa Healy, one of Australia’s most celebrated athletes who has won just about every trophy there is to win in international women’s cricket, is not ashamed to say she’s in fangirl mode.
Healy, Australia’s livewire and renowned ‘big game player’ has spent the best part of three years not only living in Covid-19 related ‘bubbles’ away from family and friends, but also playing in front of capped crowds, and on occasion empty stands.
It’s one of many reasons Healy is determined to soak up the collegial buzz of the Commonwealth Games and celebrate her team’s debut as part of the Games’ broader Australian team.
Despite herself being one of Australia’s most decorated athletes, Healy noted on Instagram she’d be spending the two weeks ‘fangirling’ the 400-odd other Team Members that are joining the cricketers in making up Team Australia.
A former state hockey player, Healy is particularly keen to rub shoulders with the remarkably successful Hockeyroos, many of whom she knows from her days of playing for Gordon Hockey Club in Sydney.
“Half of the Hockeyroos squad, I grew up playing hockey against,” Healy said.
“I marked a few of those players in club hockey, so to be able to go back there and see those guys and see how they go about things, has been a really unique opportunity for us and one that I think the girls have really got around.”
Healy fondly recalls the days playing with and against the likes of NSW-based Hockeyroos Greta Hayes, Mariah Williams, Kaitlin Nobbs, and goalkeeper Jocelyn Bartram and jumped at a photo opportunity with Jane Claxton on Wednesday evening at Australian flagbearer announcement ceremony in the Village.
The cricketers, superstars in their own right, fielded several photo requests at the flagbearer ceremony on Wednesday night. Most notably from netball legend and current Head of Female Cricket at Cricket Victoria, Sharelle McMahon, who was warmly welcomed into the team photo.
McMahon, who is in Birmingham as part of on the Commonwealth Games Australia executive, spent some time with the Australians in the lead up to the Games during their camp in Brisbane, where she shared the meaning of being part of the Australian team to Healy and her teammates.
But Healy needed no reminding of the legendary goal attack’s feats at the Games; most notably, the match-winner McMahon scored in double overtime to land gold for Australia against New Zealand in 2002.
“I’m such a passionate sporting fan and I’ll sit down and watch whatever, and cheer on Australian in everything,” Healy said.
“That match in Manchester, I distinctly remember sitting there watching that as a bit of a fan.
“I hope our games aren’t that tight, I think we can play really well and get the result we’re after.
“But that’s what any of these games are. There’s some close contests and everyone was super proud pulling on this uniform.”
Not only will Healy be fangirling and rekindling sporting connections from her teenage years while at these Games, she and a few teammates will also be boosted by family presence in the stands in Edgbaston.
It’s the first time since the 2019 Ashes tour to England that family have been allowed to travel overseas to watch the team play, and Healy’s mum Sandy has taken advantage of the re-opened international borders, as have the parents of captain Meg Lanning and Grace Harris.
“That’s a really exciting part of these greater team events, is having all the family and the support over here,” Healy said, who will also have husband Mitch Starc in the stands.
“I’m pretty sure I heard that Friday’s game for us is sold out and knowing that we’re in Birmingham, the population up this end of town, I’m not sure there’s going to be a lot of green and yellow in the stands.
“So it’ll be nice to have a couple of people there waving our flag and hopefully cheering us on. But yeah, it’s great to have our family support over here.
“They’re a big, big part of why we are successful.”
2022 Commonwealth Games
Australia’s squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Amanda-Jade Wellington
See all the Commonwealth Games cricket squads here
Group A: Australia, India, Pakistan, Barbados
Group B: England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka
Your ultimate guide to cricket at the Commonwealth Games
July 29: Australia v India (11am local, 8pm AEST)
July 31: Australia v Barbados (6pm local, 3am Aug 1 AEST)
August 3: Australia v Pakistan (11am local, 8pm AEST)
Semi-finals: August 6, 11am local (8pm AEST) and 6pm local (3am Aug 7 AEST)
Bronze medal match: August 7, 10am local (7pm AEST)
Gold medal match: August 7, 5pm local (2am Aug 8 AEST)
All matches played at Edgbaston Stadium