Asked about how to capture the moment of the national anthems before a big game, a veteran television producer once said "you've got to get close enough to see into their eyes".
The cameras at the MCG did just that in the moments before this momentous final, and captured Alyssa Healy's: shining brightly, above a grin that was joyously broad. At a stroke you could see what she was thinking, as the crowd swelled to 86,174. Not of failure, fear or pressure, but of sheer, unabated glee. Healy was thinking, how good is this?
Healy and the Australians took that attitude onto the field from the very first ball, and played with a freedom of movement and clarity of mind that echoed the dreams of many a sporting team asked to perform at their best on the biggest stage. The key, having forged through so many obstacles to get to this final they had been almost pre-emptively billed as being a part of, was to play with joy, and to showcase their skills in front of the biggest crowd of their lives.
In years to come, coaches and mentors will do well to point to Healy's smiling face and flashing blade as an exemplar of embracing the moment at hand. The struggles she faced in the triangular series immediately before the Cup itself are consigned to history, replaced by the fastest 50 in an ICC tournament final, women's or men's.
"I don't think anything is ever going to top that," Healy said after exiting for a 39-ball 75, all smiles even then. "I hope there's girls in this team that are going to experience that for a long period of time, but for me I never thought we'd get the opportunity to do something as cool as what we did today and play in front of almost 90,000 people at the MCG in a World Cup final. It's a dream come true and for me I enjoyed every single minute, I don't think you saw me without a smile on my face the whole time.
"We just went out there and enjoyed the moment, enjoyed what we were able to create. Cricket's done some really amazing things in this country for female athletes, and tonight was really just a celebration of that. Great to personally perform, but to see the team pull out an unbelievable performance, was incredibly special."
In the embrace of the moment, the noise and size of the crowd, and the tournament-deciding game, Healy and her ice-cool offsider Mooney were able to quickly flick a switch that had been off, or so it seemed, for much of the past couple of months. India had been Australia's toughest opponent, fiendishly difficult to beat and almost impossible to dominate. Healy had been struggling to find her best, enduring a run of low scores leading into the Cup.
In that same triangular series, Harmanpreet Kaur's side had beaten Australia once, running down a target not a million miles from this one, and should have done so again in the final at Junction Oval. They did not largely because Ellyse Perry and Tayla Vlaeminck had been able to use their pace in concert with Jess Jonassen's precision. Lacking Vlaeminck and playing on a slow pudding of a surface at the Sydney Showgrounds on opening night, Australia were not just beaten by India, but thrashed.
"In years to come, coaches and mentors will do well to point to Healy's smiling face and flashing blade as an exemplar of embracing the moment at hand"
That result set Australia on what has been a road less travelled in recent times, one of struggle, anxiety and uncertainty. If this was in line with the team's chosen theme for the tournament, that of the irrepressibly resilient superhero Black Panther, it was no easier for having forewarning. After a battling display against Sri Lanka in Perth that looked likely to result in their summary elimination more than once, they shared those anxieties in a frank team meeting that is the hallmark of most mature and successful sporting teams: openness usually helps.
While things did not improve dramatically, a corner was definitely turned. From there the Australians - with Healy's contribution at the top - pushed past Bangladesh, then squeaked by New Zealand and South Africa. Losing Perry along the way, they were required to adapt their plans in the field, relying more on spin and stump-to-stump medium pace rather than bounce and speed. But they kept Perry with the squad, a reminder of togetherness, and never lost sight of the fearlessness imbued in them by a coach, Matthew Mott, who learned his craft alongside the similarly low-key but highly positive Trevor Bayliss. Much as England had to battle adversity and expectation in the 50-over event last year, Australia had found a way to abide.
Having faced, for much of semi-final day, the prospect of elimination by rain in Sydney, ahead of the last of what had become four knockout matches in succession, there was undoubtedly a sense of Australian relief at making it this far. They were, through the need to beat New Zealand and South Africa in the final week of the event, well and truly match-hardened for the task at the MCG, in contrast to an Indian team who qualified first for the semis and did not play for a week due to the washout against England.
There was, then, the chance that India would not start the sharpest once Meg Lanning won the toss, and Healy's broad grin and all, was ideally placed to exploit this. The ginger early overs of Deepti Sharma - including Shafali Verma's dropped catch at cover - and Shikha Pandey gave Healy an inch, and she took a glorious mile. Mooney managed to provide the best possible support, knocking singles to give Healy the strike, and then accelerating herself as the innings went on.
"Even if we'd lost the game tonight I think I still would've been smiling. I never thought we would get an opportunity like this in my whole career." Alyssa Healy on playing in front of 86,174 people
Healy hammered five sixes, one that soared for 83 metres. India were humbled, and Australia were, with an opening stand worth 115 in 11.4 overs, virtual victors by knockout. Whatever doubt remained at the change of innings, as Australia reflected on the biggest total of a T20 World Cup final, women's or men's, was quickly assuaged when Megan Schutt coaxed an edge from Verma, and who else but Healy took a catch as sharp as her stroke play.
Throughout the struggles leading in, Healy and the team had been at pains to ensure the scoreboard did not usher in a change to a more conservative approach. Powerful starts at the top had been what made Healy so feared by opponents, and such an asset to her team. There had been signs across the tournament that Healy was building again, much as Australia did too in the face of so many hurdles.
"Yep 100% and I was getting the same feedback from Meg and Motty and Flegs [Shawn Flegler, chairman of selectors] as well, that's my role in the side," Healy said. "Yes I'd like to give myself a couple extra balls to get myself going, but the way I approach my cricket is how can I get us off to the best start possible, and the low scores came . I've had an unbelievable run over the last couple of years, with not a lot of low scores, so for me it was always bound to happen.
"I'm surprised it went as long as it did without, so for me it was just about making sure I was backing the processes I had in place and the plans that I had, and to do it tonight in front of a lot of people on a big occasion will give me a huge amount of confidence, but the way the team's approached this tournament has been fantastic. There's been a lot of talk about batting wobbles, but to come out and play the way we did tonight, we were never in doubt to be honest."
What she, and they, produced this night will live long in the memory. But no longer than the image of Healy's shining eyes and beaming smile in the face of her moment. How good is this? How good is Healy?