Alyssa Healy’s eyes widened and her smile broadened at the mention of her 32,000-plus Twitter followers.
The Australian wicketkeeper-batter – one of the country’s most prominent women cricketers – seemed almost bemused by the number.
“It’s a little bit scary that there’s 32,000 people out there that want to read what I’ve got to say. Normally it’s pretty much drivel,” the NSW Breakers captain said.
Healy – on a promo tour of Tamworth on Wednesday in her capacity as Sydney Sixers vice-captain – was quick to add that people should “keep an eye” on her social media platforms because there was “a bit happening with the Aussie’s stuff and obviously the Sixers”.
It’s hard to image her husband, Australian and NSW paceman Mitchell Starc, spruiking the upcoming itineraries of his teams. If he did, though, he would pack a decidedly bigger social media punch than Healy, what with his 718,000 Twitter followers.
But it wasn't that long ago that women’s cricket barely registered a blip on the sporting radar. Athletes like Healy are at the vanguard of its popularity surge, as other women’s sports, including football, AFL and netball, also enjoy much higher profiles.
In May, Healy, the niece of Test great Ian Healy, played for the IPL Trailblazers in an exhibition match in Mumbai that was billed as a step towards the establishment of a women’s Indian Premier League.
The team’s name was appropriate given the aforementioned tectonic shift, although Healy is a seasoned revolutionary – first garnering widespread attention in 2006 upon becoming the first girl to play among boys in the private schools' competition in NSW.
“I think there was a little bit of an uproar at the time … it has become a little bit more the norm since,” the 28-year-old said, adding that the progression of women’s sport since then has been “fantastic”.
She said: “Jeez, we’ve seen how far the games have all come in that short space of time. So it’s really exciting for the future, and hopefully it just keeps getting bigger and better.”