Australia captain Alyssa Healy believes losses like the one they suffered against South Africa can be good for a team that has gone through some significant changes, but has backed them as still “a really good cricket side” as the multi-format series gets set for a potentially grandstand finish.
South Africa’s historic first ODI win over the home side on Wednesday followed their first-ever victory over Australia across formats in the T20I series. If they win again on Saturday and take the ODI series, the multi-format scoreline would be 6-6 heading into next week’s Test at the WACA.
Australia have now lost three matches across formats this season after also being turned over by West Indies in a T20I at North Sydney Oval when Hayley Matthews produced one of the all-time great innings in a record chase.
In Wednesday’s ODI they crashed to 71 for 8 on a pitch spiced up by a steady drizzle – having earlier dropped five chances in the field – although Healy insisted they still believed they could win from that position.
“It’s plain and simple: you can’t afford to be sloppy and not adapt as quickly as we needed to,” Healy said. “We’ve proven that over the summer, that when we’ve let ourselves down, even a little bit, in all three facets we are getting punished. Tomorrow’s a great opportunity to come out here and be really clinical and perform the way we know we can.
“We are still a really good cricket side, we showed in Adelaide how good we can be, just got to turn up tomorrow and do the same thing then do it repeatedly for long periods of time.”
South Africa, who missed the chance of a series win in the T20Is, are hopeful of taking their opportunity this time.
“It is definitely not done,” allrounder Eliz-Mari Marx said. “There’s one game to play and I think it’s all to play for. If we as a team can stick to what we did the previous match, we can go and win the series.”
Plenty of success has continued to follow with the gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and another T20 World Cup title in South Africa last year. They retained the Ashes in England, though they had to settle for a points draw across the three formats as they lost both the ODI and T20I series.
Despite the shock T20I loss they took both series against West Indies and prevailed in the two white-ball formats on the recent tour of India after losing the Test.
“I’ve spoken quite openly about the changes we’ve seen,” Healy, who officially took on the full-time captaincy last December, said. “Yes, we’ve kept winning, we’ve kept being successful, but we’ve had a lot of significant change in and around our group over the last 18 months.
“So think it’s great for our group, you tend to learn a lot more about yourself individually but also as a team when you lose and lose well, like we did [on Wednesday], so even today the conversations have been had about what will take place tomorrow is already a step in the right direction. Think they are really positive signs.”
Healy has also been playing long enough to have gone through previous times when Australia’s dominance has been called into question.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Healy was hopeful that key allrounder Ash Gardner would be available for the deciding ODI after pulling up with hamstring soreness in the second match although there remains a chance she will be rested with an eye on the Test. Ellyse Perry is recovering well from the illness that struck her during the week.