Australia Women coach Matthew Mott put his team’s spectacular turnaround at the recently-concluded Women’s T20 World Cup at home down to the partnership between Rachael Haynes and captain Meg Lanning in their second game against Sri Lanka.
Overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy at the start of the tournament, Australia began their campaign with a defeat to India. In the following game, they were staring down the barrel against Sri Lanka, reduced to 10-3 in a chase of 123, and facing a potentially shocking early elimination.
However, Haynes and Lanning put together a 95-run fourth-wicket stand to bail the team out and they eventually crossed the line. “We talked about it a lot before the tournament,” Mott said. “The beauty of this team was we actually realised that we didn’t react well in the first game and we were nervous, I was nervous, so I can imagine what the players were like. There was so much expectation and build-up, and we knew there was a lot at stake. For us to turn out at the MCG was potentially a game-changing moment for not just cricket but women’s sport. So there was absolutely a burden there.
“How we internalised that and actually helped each other out sort of happened after Perth and that partnership between Rach [Haynes] and Meg [Lanning]. I think you always look back and say, ‘what a great final’, but we had no right to be there unless that partnership happened, and that just changed our whole philosophy for the tournament.”
Following the result against Sri Lanka, Australia’s batting group came together for a meeting and spoke honestly about what was needed. It was a meeting attended by some of the team’s senior players, including Ellyse Perry, whose message Mott particularly cited for bringing about a change in attitude.
“Players admitted, ‘I’m nervous, I haven’t been playing like I normally play, I should be doing this, I should be doing that’,” Mott said. “Ellyse Perry was at that meeting because she goes in both meetings [batting and bowling] as an allrounder. She says, ‘to be honest, we just need to make sure we’ve got soul in this group, and we look out for each other, be a little bit more overt with our body language, and maybe the odd fist-bump and something like that when someone has hit a good boundary’.
“I think if you look back to us in the first two games compared to the last few, you definitely saw a greater appreciation of a partnership, and I reckon that was pivotal.”