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News

Women's Tests: Healy 'would gladly have the opportunity to play as many as we can'

"I feel like you're constantly letting someone down" - Healy on having so many high-quality bowling options to turn to

Australia celebrate their victory in the multi-format series  •  Getty Images and Cricket Australia

Australia celebrate their victory in the multi-format series  •  Getty Images and Cricket Australia

Australia captain Alyssa Healy has so many options in her bowling attack that sometimes it can almost feel like a mixed blessing.
Just like on day three of the Test against a resolute South Africa, when Healy scanned the field and realised she had yet to call upon legspinner and hometown hero Alana King. Suddenly, she sensed the wrath of the WACA faithful.
"I could feel the crowd beating down on me," Healy quipped after Australia had wrapped up an innings-and-284-run victory. "We have so many options and I feel like you're constantly letting someone down if they haven't had a bowl. It's both a luxury and a curse."
King had threatened late on day two on a sun-baked pitch that had started to be helpful for spin as per pre-match expectations. But she did not return to the attack until the 42nd over of the third day to illustrate Australia's embarrassment of riches with the ball.
Against a fighting South Africa middle-order, with Delmi Tucker, Chloe Tryon and Tazmin Brits batting with discipline and absorbing 461 deliveries combined, and on a surface that flattened out as the match wore on, Healy had to tap into her deep resources. She used eight bowlers with six of them taking wickets to finally crack open South Africa's resistance late on day three as Australia claimed a comprehensive win.
"You know that when we are in a little tricky situation, there's always someone you can throw the ball to that's going to do something different, so it's a huge luxury," Healy said. "It's difficult to balance and difficult to get it right all the time, but I'd rather have it that way than not having enough options."
Healy also threw the ball to Annabel Sutherland, who capped her spectacular match with two late wickets including bowling Tryon with one that jagged back in. Sutherland became the first woman to score a double-century and take five wickets in a Test match. After making 210 off 256 balls, the fourth-highest individual score in women's Tests, Sutherland unsurprisingly did not bowl late on day two.
"You can't just throw a Test match in willy nilly and think that it's going to work. So whether it is the multi-format series, whether there is standalone Test series, I don't know what it's going to look like. But I can sit here and safely say we do want more"
Alyssa Healy on more Tests for women
"I didn't really want to throw her the ball because I thought she might be a little bit tired and probably needed a rest," Healy said. "I told her that when we went out there and she went 'aww' because she wanted to bowl.
"[She's] unbelievably special. I think Test cricket in particular is made for Annabel. Her technique is impeccable and what she can do with the ball, just challenging the stumps all the time and making batters play, I think is pretty unique.
"She'll be opening or batting three I would assume at some point for Australia, but right now I'm not sure who [she is] dislodging."
The Test match, the first between the teams, capped a gruelling stretch for Australia, who claimed the multi-series 12-4 having earlier prevailed in the tough white-ball series. Even though they wrapped up the Test with one day to spare, there won't be much time for celebration with a number of players having to fly off in the coming days to India to play the Women's Premier League. Then Australia will travel to Bangladesh next month for a white-ball series before a welcome breather as they set their sights on the T20 World Cup later in the year.
"There's probably a little bit of fatigue around the group, but this is our job and the modern-day game," Healy said. "Everyone's the ultimate professional in that change room. They'll have their mindset on what they need to do to get through WPL, but also get themselves right for Bangladesh."
Australia's red-ball experience came to the fore against South Africa, who were playing just their second Test in a decade. But Test matches remain increasingly rare in women's cricket with Healy having only played her ninth since debuting in 2011. Australia's next Test is not scheduled until next summer's Ashes, but Healy hoped for more with the next FTP cycle set to start from mid next year.
"It's just about finding context for them. You can't just throw a Test match in willy nilly and think that it's going to work," Healy said. "So whether it is the multi-format series, whether there is standalone Test series, I don't know what it's going to look like. But I can sit here and safely say we do want more. We'd love to play more and we'd gladly have the opportunity to play as many as we can."

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth