Australian captain Alyssa Healy has flatly rejected suggestions from her South African counterpart that her team’s dominant aura has been diminished in the wake of their 27-year-unbeaten streak against the Proteas coming to an end.
Despite losing both a T20 and an ODI to the tourists for the first time ever in the space of two weeks, Healy, who has taken over the captaincy after the retirement of legendary skipper Meg Lanning last November, was adamant that while the all-conquering Australians win a lot, they were not unbeatable, especially in T20 cricket.
After the historic ODI win at North Sydney Oval on Wednesday night, South African star Marizanne Kapp made the suggestion that the Australians, current holders of both the ODI and T20 World Cups, were different since Lanning’s retirement and the rest of the world was “catching up”
“There’s definitely a change,” Kapp said.
“Losing someone like Lanning, you’re never going to be able to replace her, not with captaincy and I don’t think her batting as well.
“I remember too many games where we had Australia in trouble and she came out to bat and she saved them.
“I think everyone is catching up a bit around the world.”
But ahead of the third and final ODI at the same venue on Saturday, with the Aussies holding a 6-4 points lead in the multi-format series, Healy said it would be “disrespectful” to suggest they couldn’t lose to teams like South Africa and that world cricket was “closer than what everyone suggests”.
“I still don’t believe in the gap. I still don’t believe it exists,” she said.
“Yes, we’ve got World Cup trophies in the cabinet and yes, we’ve won a lot of cricket but I still think teams are a lot closer than what everybody thinks they are.
“I think the one-day format in particular is one that we’ve been very good at, and that’s one that we seem to have created some sort of gap in, but I think the T20 format has been a lot closer than what everyone suggests.
“It doesn’t feel unusual (to lose to South Africa) and I feel like by me saying that, it would disrespect South Africa a little bit.”
Lanning’s departure came after long-serving vice-captain Rachael Haynes also departed the core Australian squad with batting phenom Phoebe Litchfield and former Irish bowler Kim Gath among recent additions.
Healy, who has been playing for Australia since she made her debut as a teenager in 2010, said there had been constant change during that time, that evolution was continual, as were challenges from other countries.
“There was a period of time where cricket was really challenging for this group,” Healy said.
“We’ve had a lot of success over the last five or six years, yes, but there’s been plenty of times within that that this group has been challenged.”
Belinda Clarke Award winner Ash Gardner looks set to take her place in the clash having escaped serious injury after suffering tightness in her hamstring on Wednesday night.