MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Alyssa Healy said she hoped the Women’s T20 World Cup final would be a game-changer for her sport as the Australia team celebrated their fifth title and a record-breaking final at a ceremony in the centre of Melbourne on Monday.
Australia thrashed India by 85 runs in front of 86,174 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in a final played on International Women’s Day. It was the biggest crowd to ever watch a women’s sporting event in Australia.
Opener Healy smashed 79 runs from 39 balls, including a half century off 30 deliveries, to win Player of the Match on Sunday.
“What an unbelievable occasion, our group was unbelievable,” said Healy, who like many of her team mates wore dark glasses after celebrating into the early hours.
“I think it was probably the best game of cricket I’ve ever played in. To be able to do it in front of 86,000 people is next level and hopefully it’s the start of something special.”Organisers had hoped to set a global attendance record for a women’s event and even if they fell a few thousand fans short it was no less special an occasion for the players.
Australia captain Meg Lanning, who started her international career when the women’s team counted their crowds in the hundreds, said it had been the best of the four titles she had played a part in winning.
“It’s definitely at the top,” she told fans at Melbourne’s Federation Square.
“To make it to the big day and then to perform so well is something I’m really proud of.”
Player of the Tournament Beth Mooney, who hit 78 runs in the final, said the enormity of the event and her achievement had yet to sink in.
“It’s probably something I’ll look back on in 10 years’ time,” she said.
“For me and everyone there it’ll probably be one of those things where you say: ‘were you there when we broke the record for the most watched female game in Australia?’.”
Cricket Australia Chief Executive Kevin Roberts paid tribute to the “inspirational” team but also to the women on whose shoulders they stood.
“Last night was a momentous event,” said Roberts.
“It’s pretty easy for males involved in cricket like me to jump on this wave and play some small role but the credit belongs to the women.
“To the generations of women who paid their own way to play for their country, can you believe it? To the women who have made women’s cricket what it is over the last 145 years, this belongs to them.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, Editing by Himani Sarkar