Openers Alyssa Healy smashed a quick-fire 75 and Beth Mooney an unbeaten 78 as the defending champions plundered an ominous 184/4 – the highest score ever in a women’s T20 final.
India could only manage 99 all out in reply to end a 17-day tournament that reinforced Australia’s dominance, having now won five of the seven World Cups held.
Here’s what captain Meg Lanning and Player of the Match Healy had to say after the match
Can you sum up your emotions right now?
MEG LANNING: Oh, just pride really. This was always going to be massive. We had our ups and downs throughout. Everything was thrown at us. Just to be able to come through and put together the complete performance on the biggest stage is something that is pretty amazing and is a testament to the group to be able to really deliver that.
Midge, we heard a bit about the Black Panther through the tournament. Can you just explain what that is and what the approach was for the team in terms of pressure.
ALYSSA HEALY: Yeah, looking at every big series or tournament, we sort of have a refocus about what’s important to our group. We knew that every single opposition was going to come really, really hard at us in every game, and it was about how we could absorb that pressure and throw it back in their face.
Me being the nerdy person in the team, I really referred to the Black Panther in the movie where his suit really absorbs the energy from his opponents, and when he’s ready, he forces it back upon them. We took that mentality into this tournament. Everyone came really hard at us early on, and we held our nerve, especially after that first six, and we got the job done when needed. Yeah, we’re all Black Panthers out there.
Alyssa, can you explain what it was like walking off to a standing ovation from 80-odd thousand people after those innings?
ALYSSA HEALY: I don’t think anything is going to top that. I hope there’s girls on our side that are going to experience that for a long period of time. For me, I never thought we’d get an opportunity to do something as cool as we did today and play in front of almost 90,000 people in the MCG in a home World Cup Final. It’s a dream come true. For me, I enjoyed every single minute. I don’t think you saw me without a smile on my face that whole time because we just went out there and enjoyed the moment.
We enjoyed what we were able to create. Cricket has done some amazing things in this country for female athletes, and tonight was really just a celebration of that. Look, great to personally perform, but to see the team just pull out an unbelievable performance was incredibly special.
I know it’s how you normally play, sort of trying to race out of the blocks, but was there extra adrenaline out there as you were taking guard today?
ALYSSA HEALY: No, I don’t think so. I think oddly the group was really calm today, and I think Meg pointed that out to us before, that I’ve never seen the group quite that calm. I think it was the same in the semifinal. It was almost like we weren’t sure we were getting on, and all of a sudden we were playing, and the group was ready to play. Today we were just ready to play some cricket.
For me, I thought India sort of dominated with the ball the last time we played against them, and for me, it was my job to get out there and put them on their back foot early. For it to come off was fantastic, but then to see each and every batter to come in with freedom and get us to a really decent total in the final was really cool.
Alyssa, your next family, you know you’ve got Uncle Wayne in there and your husband. Who’s got bragging rights now in the family?
ALYSSA HEALY: 100 percent me. 100 percent. Yeah, look, I’ve been a part of a lot of successful World Cup campaigns now, but to do it here on home soil was always going to be incredibly difficult to do. So I guess Mitch and I are 1-1 on that stage.
Alyssa, you spoke about this at the presentation, but you – talking about before the tournament and a round of live scores, but was the most important thing to make sure you kept thinking this is the way I play rather than trying to change what you did to try to get a high score?
ALYSSA HEALY: Yeah, 100 percent. I was getting the same feedback from Meg and Motty and Flegs as well that that’s my role on the side. Yeah, 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 my team off to the best start possible? The low scores came, and I’ve had an unbelievable ride over the last two 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 making sure I was back in the processes I had in place and the plans that I had, and I guess to be able to do it tonight in front of a lot of people in a big occasion, I think will give me a huge amount of confidence.
But the way that this team’s approached this tournament, in my mind, has been fantastic. There’s been a lot of talk about batting ovals, but to come out and play the way we did tonight, we were never in doubt, to be honest.
Just one for you, Meg, can you think back to during the day in Sydney, as the rain was coming down – it’s only a few days ago – how you were feeling then to how you’re feeling now?
MEG LANNING: No doubt there were a lot of nerves around in terms of the weather. We turned up to the ground, and there was a feeling perhaps that we wouldn’t get on. To get a game in the other night was amazing. We keep thinking about it and talking about it. It poured for the next two hours after we came off the field. We just got a bit of luck, and we felt like we hadn’t had much throughout the tournament, and it sort of swung our way where we kept at it and stuck with what we know.
To come through today, probably the least stressful game of the whole tournament, was just amazing. Everybody was on. As Midge said, in the room, you could just tell. We were ready to go. This group always performs on the big stage, and we’re ready for the big moments, and I thought we saw that tonight.
Meg, you’ve talked about that sense of calm. I’m just wondering was that organic? Did that just happen? Or was there a meeting you had where you said to everyone, let’s just be calm, this will happen. Also, how did you spend today sort of waiting for 6:00? I heard Megan Schutt say she just couldn’t wait for 6:00 p.m. to get here.
MEG LANNING: Yeah, I didn’t do a good job of waiting today. I paced up and down the room. I think I did for 40 minutes before we left. Tried to catch up with a few different people. I think I had like five coffees today trying to stay awake for the night game. It’s all worth it now. It’s amazing.
The group, the first couple of games perhaps, we didn’t have that sense of calmness that we would have liked, but that’s the way it goes. We were able to bounce back, and to be able to change that throughout the tournament, I think is a real credit throughout the group. You can sometimes let it slide for a little bit too long and you can’t turn it around, and we were able to do that.
Our last four games were really good. We were under the pump a lot, but we went back to our skills, and different people stood up in different games. That’s the best thing about this team. It’s not one or two people we rely on. It’s a group effort.
For some reason today, I’m not sure what it was, but everyone came in, and they were just focused and ready to go.
Just a quick one for you, Alyssa. When you went out, when you took off your gloves and stuff, you had the dugout in hysterics. Was that a joke, or what did you say to them?
ALYSSA HEALY: I probably can’t share what was said to me on the way off the field, but I literally just said to the group that we’re right under their skin here. The way they reacted when I got out, the way they gave me a gobful on the way off just meant we were right under their skin, we were right at the front of this game, and if we just kept driving it home, that we’d be all right. Apparently, it was funny.
Meg, you’ve won a few titles in your career. Just to take you back a few years, 2014, your first World Cup that you won as captain in Bangladesh, I think there were about 4,000 people at the final. How does that day compare with this one?
MEG LANNING: They’re both special in their own ways, but this day today is incredible. We could only have dreamed of happening. When they said they wanted to get 90,000 people to the MCG for a World Cup Final, I was a little bit skeptical, but immediately I thought that I wanted to be there and I wanted to be involved.
There was such a big buildup. Yeah, just all the outside pressure and expectation was – we wanted to come and win this tournament, no doubt about that, but it was something else, and I thought the way we were able to react and deal with that is a testament to the group.
Yeah, this day is certainly the best of my career so far. Just this group of people, the support staff as well, Tay and Pez, who weren’t out there with us on the field but so much a part of it. It’s just such a special group. We’re really just good mates. We love going out there and playing together, and I thought we saw that tonight.
Alyssa, how about you? How does this compare with 2018?
ALYSSA HEALY: Oh, this is so much better. We always speak about I think there was a lot more pressure on us going into the 2018 World Cup in the West Indies, where we were coming off the 50-over World Cup. We hadn’t had a trophy. We always felt like there was more pressure on us then, but we were put under the pump a lot in this tournament. We travelled around the country. We had games in quick succession, and not one moment did any of our group complain. We embraced the whole tournament for what it was, and we just went out there and enjoyed ourselves and ultimately played the best cricket when it counted.
Yeah, to sit here tonight with metal around our neck at the MCG is going to be very hard to beat.
Meg, you touched on how tough it’s been in the road to get here, and you’ve put up such a brave front on the way through. What has the personal toll been like just as captain? How have you coped really? Take us behind the scenes, I suppose.
MEG LANNING: That New Zealand game and the semifinals, the most nervous and sick I felt playing a game of cricket ever. I guess to get through that and then coming into today, obviously, everyone was a little bit on edge, but it just happened. It was perfect right from the first ball really.
So, look, everyone rides every ball every game. There’s ups and downs throughout the tournament. Yeah, to be able to lead this group is a real privilege. They make my job very easy. Yeah, it’s just such a great group to be a part of. Everyone rode the bumps and the highs and lows. To finish like this is just incredible.
Meg, a lot of the items on your wish list have been ticked off. For example, a final against India, winning the title. There’s something else that’s been on your wish list for a while. Do you think a full-fledged IPL style league for women in India is that missing piece in the puzzle?
MEG LANNING: Yeah, I guess it would be nice for that to happen. I’m not sure how far away that is, but, look, India have had a great tournament. They really brought a lot to the tournament both on and off the field. They’ll certainly come back stronger from this. Yeah, I guess, if there was an IPL to happen, that would be great. I think it’s sort of the next step for the women’s game, and we’d all love to be involved.
As I said, India are amazing for the game. They’re great role models for everyone around the world. To be able to beat them on the big stage, I guess, is a really nice feeling because we know how dangerous they are.
To Alyssa, slightly extended Women’s T20 Challenge is going to take place in a couple of months time. Is that something the Australians are looking forward to participating in? Because you missed out last year.
ALYSSA HEALY: Yeah, definitely. I think, just coming off of what Meg was saying, it’s unbelievably exciting, the women’s game at the moment and the opportunities for players to play all around the world in different domestic leagues and gain experience in different conditions, I think is fantastic. Yeah, I’m sure a lot of Aussie players will be sticking their hand up for that and hopefully be over there and be a part of it.
Meg, just talk us through, I suppose, the feeling in the dugout after that first over, when Alyssa had taken the game on and showed no nerves.
MEG LANNING: Yeah, we spoke just before we went out to bat about playing good cricket shots to settle the nerves down. Obviously, after the anthems and the crowd roaring and stuff like that, emotions are pretty high. So we actually just spoke about calming the game down and that was through playing good cricket, and that first over was the perfect example of that. Midge just played nice shots. She didn’t force anything, and it was all natural.
After that first over, there was a big sort of sigh from the group. We were all ready, and we sort of just got into the game. So Beth and Midge just set the game up for us beautifully. They calmed the dugout down, and from then on, it was all pretty smooth, which was nice.
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