Alyssa Healy in the niece of Ian Healy and wife of Mitchell Starc    Getty Images
Alyssa Healy in the niece of Ian Healy and wife of Mitchell Starc Getty Images

The niece of Australian wicket-keeping legend Ian Healy and wife of one of the world s fastest bowlers – Mitchell Starc, it s fair to say cricket runs in the family for Alyssa Healy. But as she prepares to star behind the stumps for Australia and help her country retain its title at the ICC Women s World Cup 2017. The 27-year-old admits her initial cricketing dream was to play a slightly different role. I think it was under-10s or under-12s, everyone had to have a go at everything and the first week I was bowling and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I thought I was going to be a mean fast bowler, she explained. Australia Women lose Southern Stars’ tag; show support to gender neutrality

Come week three, it was my turn to be wicket-keeper and I haven t taken the gloves off since. That was the end of my fast bowling aspirations. My uncle didn t mind too much, I think every wicket-keeper is a frustrated fast bowler. The irony is, the career of Healy s husband Mitchell, who topped the ODI standings as the world s best bowler in March 2015, took the opposite direction. The two met aged just nine while playing for the same cricket team, and shared wicket-keeping duties for the first few years until the combination of a new wicket-keeper arrival and the coach s suggestion Mitchell try his hand at bowling saw their paths start to take different directions a subsequent growth spurt then fully cementing Mitchell s role as a fast bowler.

What has remained the same though is the couple s love for both each other and the sport of cricket they married in April 2016 and are the first Australian married couple and third in the history of the game to play Test cricket. Their focus this summer however has been on the shorter formats of the game with Mitchell part of the Australia squad which failed to progress past the group stages of the recent ICC Champions Trophy. Attention now switches to Alyssa to see if she can add to the Healy/Starc family honours board and she will not be short of supporters.

I might lean on Mitch for some experience of the English conditions but we don t tend to talk too much about cricket actually, revealed Alyssa, who made her international debut back in 2010.”We both enjoy playing golf, we have a lot of interests outside of cricket although it tends to get very competitive. It s game faces on during contests between us but when it s finished we re a happily married couple. My mum and dad are coming over for the World Cup too which will be great any excuse for my mum to go travelling!

The ICC has a long-term commitment for the global growth of the women s game with the ambition for prize money parity in 15 years. This year will also see the final played at Lord s on 23 July and Alyssa admitted a potential appearance at the home of cricket was a massive motivation for her ahead of the start of the tournament. The World Cup is the pinnacle of our sport, she said. All the matches are pretty crucial, but the one that stands out is the final and having it at Lord s too makes it pretty special. It is at the back of everyone s mind but we have a lot of crucial games that we need to win first. Women s cricket has come a long way and I have no doubt this World Cup will be the biggest one so far.